Say No: 2024 Lenten Sermon Seeds Series

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives?
– Mark 8:34-36 CEB

During the season of Lent, Christians have historically focused on repentance, reflection, and humility. That intention has encouraged practices, such as fasting and other spiritual disciplines to draw disciples not only closer to Christ but also to the way of sacrificial living modeled by Jesus. At the same time, early Christians did not abandon their tradition of celebrating Easter every Sunday. During Lent, the Sundays were not counted as they had a rhythm of reminding themselves that suffering is not the goal or the point of the story. Lent actually served as a yearly reminder that giving of oneself in love of God and neighbor attainable when we commit to it. And, grace is available to start anew as we need it.

“Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves…What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment’s hesitation.”
— Catherine Doherty

In that spirit, Christians may also elect to take on a new practice rather than letting go In some ways, we have framed these choices as distinct when they are actually tethered. When we say yes to something, inevitably, we will have to say no to something else…or vice versa. The question is not whether we will give something up or take something on. Rather, the imperative of the moment is to say no to what needs to be discarded to make space for what we will gain. In this season of Lent, we will commit to say no.

“You will have to say no to things to say yes to your work. It will be worth it.”
― Lin-Manuel Miranda

“To end certain cycles in your life, you will need to say no to things you’ve once said yes to in the past. You have grown much wiser and you know better now. So dissimilar decisions will have to be made this time around. It’s time to extract expired people, energies, and situations.”
― Robin S. Baker

Say No.

February 14, 2024 (Ash Wednesday): Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21 | “Hypocrisy”

February 18, 2024: Mark 1:9–15 | “Temptation”
February 25, 2024: Mark 8:31–38 | “Shame”
March 3, 2024: John 2:13–22 | “Transactionalism”
March 10, 2024: John 3:14–21 “Condemnation”
March 17, 2024: John 12:20–33 | “Single Grains”

Holy Week

Palm Sunday, March 24, 2024: John 12:12–16 | “Fear”
Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2024: John 13:1–17, 31b–35| “The Betrayal”
Good Friday, March 29, 2024: John 18:1–19:42 | “The Sword”
Holy Saturday, March 30, 2024: Matthew 27:57–66 | “The Tomb”

The Rev. Dr. Cheryl A. Lindsay, Minister for Worship and Theology (, also serves as a local church pastor, public theologian, and worship scholar-practitioner with a particular interest in the proclamation of the word in gathered communities.