The traditional Church Year begins in December with Advent, the four weeks of preparation for the celebration first coming of our Lord. After the twelve days of Christmas (or mass--worship of Christ), January 6 begins the Epiphany (revelation) of our Lord which focuses on the visit and subsequent worship of the Lord by the Magi and the Baptism of our Lord.
On February 13, Ash Wednesday, the Lenten season begins. It's the forty days before Easter in which we remember our Lord's temptations in the desert, forty days after He was baptized. Lent is similar to Advent as a time of reflection on our sins and seeking the Lord's revelation of our sins to us, which heightens our appreciation of God's good grace through Jesus Christ. All of these seasons deal with revelations to us. Christmas and Epiphany identifies the Savior God and Man. Advent and Lent discloses and divulges our nature to us.
Notice that none of this has anything to do with self-disclosure or products of any of our investigations--it all comes from God. The cleverest creature in Eden, the serpent, knew exactly what it was doing when it handed Eve the most tempting lie: "You will be like God, knowing good from evil." (Genesis 3:5)
I recently saw a church sign that read, "A half-truth is a whole lie" and that is so appropriate to the whopper that the serpent gave because none of what the serpent said was true. No, we cannot be "like God" by disobeying Him, and knowing good and evil has nothing to do with the ability to behave in a Godly manner. The same Hebrew word for "knowing "(pronounced "yada") is the same word used when Adam "knew" his wife and she bore a son. Sexual intercourse, by itself, does not impart wisdom to anyone (just ask any clergy member or secular school counselor).
Comedians have popularized the phrase, "yada, yada, yada," to signify nothing. In Hebrew it means, "to know". In their comedy, the phrase means, "blah, blah, blah", or "words, words, words". Human use of "yada" in isolation from God is a good description all our "wisdom", just mindless foolishness and fallacies. We know that God says that He "will destroy the wisdom of the wise", as God's dismissal of human reasoning. (Isaiah 29:14; 1 Corinthians 1:19)
Lenten season is a wonderful time to come out into the light of truth, the real yada, God's yada. Lenten season is not a time of self-flagellation or loathing, but begins with the foundational truth of the gospel: we are already forgiven our sins by the gift of faith in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It's not lip service or simple mental assent, but the genuine yada of God's kind and it comes to and is given to us as an epiphany, a total surprise.
Now is a good time to prepare for Lent, the preparation for Easter. Pray for God's revelation of your unknown-to-you sins, really knowing that you are forgiven. Satan is always telling us, "How can you be holy while you are still sinful?" Once again, a half-truth that is a whole lie. We are holy only in God's eyes and only because He has forgiven our sins through Christ. Yada, indeed! Gloria Deo--Glory to God.
Pastor Timothy Matthew
is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran
Church in Kennett.