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The Rhythm of Our Story - The Feast of Trumpets

On Sunday, Pastor Ed continued his series on "The Rhythm of Our Story" by focusing on the Feast of Trumpets.

The Feast of Trumpets is Rosh Hashanah.  The first day of the seventh month is the start of the year of the Babylonian calendar, so it became associated with the new year during the Babylonian captivity.

We looked at Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6 to see the instructions about the Feast of Trumpets.

Two Questions:  What does this mean?  What does it have to do with me?

What does this mean?

The passages don't tell us a lot.  This feast doesn't reference any historical event.

The Feast of Trumpets was instituted to remind God's people of God's desire to call them to repentance and to point them toward His great mercy.

The word for trumpet here is shofar -- a ram's horn.

The shofar was associated with God's Law in their minds.  Prophets used it as a call to repentance.  See Exodus 19:16; Joel 2:15-17; Isaiah 58:1.

"Alert us to the need to repent" -- a modern rabbi

"A wake up call to abandon evil deeds and turn to God." -- Maimonides

They were reminded that their lives would be tried in God's court.  God, the judge of the world is presiding.

The feast called people's imaginations to examine their lives.

Jesus reinforced this.  See Matthew 12:36 and Hebrews 9:27.

Another part of the picture: Justice understood in the context of God's mercy.

Examining their lives, they also had an ardent hope that God would pardon their shortcomings and help them do right.

The story of Abraham offering Isaac was read on the Feast of Trumpets.

Isaiah 30:15-18  "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you..."

What does it have to do with us?

The first day of the seventh month was also the end of harvest time.

God prescribed that they set aside a day at a critically important time of the year to think about repentance and God's mercy.

Jesus repeated the theme in Matthew 6:25-34.  Seek God's kingdom first.  Our connection with God comes first.

They had as a part of their rhythm a day to repent.  God forced them to live with the end in mind.

Get right with God!  We're going to stand before Him at the end of our lives.

Matthew 18:21-35; 25:31-46  Jesus went so far as to say He'll be involved in that judging process.

We need to live with the end in mind.

***

We were also reminded of the prayer initiative going on during Lent:  Gateway: Together in Prayer.

Commit to pray for Gateway on a certain day of the week for a certain amount of time up through Easter.

Some prayer ideas for this week include the Children's Team Leaders Retreat going on this weekend (Feb. 26-28), and the youth leading Kidztown next Sunday in their absence.  Also for grading and building permits, and God's guidance and wisdom for the elders and staff.

***

The Father-Daughter Dance took place Sunday night, with an 80s theme.  I've seen various pictures on Facebook of dads and daughters -- and they are all wonderful!

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The Rhythm of Our Story

Last week, we began the Lent season with an Ash Wednesday service.  We had stations where we could think about Communion, Confession, Lamentation, and Sacrifice.

Check Gateway's Facebook page to see pictures.

On Sunday, Pastor Ed first met with Julie Abraham and Bryan Moaf from the Prayer Team.  They told about an initiative we're calling Gateway Together in Prayer.  We're asking people to commit to praying for Gateway in the weeks from now until Easter.  You can pray individually or together as a family.  But we're asking you to pick a day of the week and a length of time to pray for Gateway.  Write down your commitment to remind yourself, but also drop off the anonymous tear-off portion at the bottom of the bulletin insert, so we can all be encouraged to know how much prayer is going on.  We will also include prayer suggestions each week.

Here's a video about Gateway Together in Prayer.

Julie read the passage Leviticus 16:3-22 about the Day of Atonement.

Bryan read a New Testament passage about atonement, Romans 3:21-26.

Then Pastor Ed brought a message about the Rhythm of Our Story, continuing a theme he started talking about on January 3rd, and now relating it to Lent.

Playing songs, you have to be in rhythm.  We can be spiritually out of sync with ourselves.  The rhythm of our lives sometimes puts distance between us and God instead of bringing us closer to God.

The rhythm of our lives here in northern Virginia is usually determined by school or work, but we're not in control of that and it doesn't help our relationship with God.

We talked about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament.

1)  It was ever-present and comprehensive in the lives of Old Testament God-fearers.

They covered every spiritual contingency, and were a near constant feature of Israelite life.  God prescribed it to be so.

Relationships require investment, regularity, and consistency.  He wants the same for us:  regular practices that make sense for us.

2)  Through the sacrificial system, God accommodated Himself to His people.

He took a familiar ritual and filled that with His meaning.

But He didn't allow them to create images, like the nations around them.  And He did offer them a name by which they could know Him.

3)  Through the sacrificial system, God communicated both their need for forgiveness and His offer of forgiveness.

Psalm 50:7-15 -- God doesn't need our sacrifices -- we do.

The high point of the sacrificial system came on the Day of Atonement.

The high priest offered a bull for his own sin, then a goat for the sins of the people, and a scapegoat to symbolically take the sins out into the wilderness.

This entire system was an audiovisual aid pointing to Jesus.

Now that we have a relationship with God, it needs to be nurtured.  That's where rhythm comes in.  Rituals can use the rhythm of our lives to enhance our connection to God.

God teaches us, but He also connects with us.  Romans 12:1-2

This Lenten season, let's recalibrate our schedules.

Three suggestions:

1)  Find a way to simplify.

Consider giving something up.

2)  Make a plan to boost your devotional activity.

You do need a plan!

Consider using Gateway's Lenten devotionals.

Consider adding Bible reading if you already read a devotional.

Consider adding a family component.

3)  Try participating in Gateway Together in Prayer.

***

Coming up -- We're breaking ground on our new Community Resource Center!

March 6 at 10:00 at Mercer Middle School!

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