Lent is the forty days before Easter. Six weeks, less Sundays, when we celebrate the resurrection. Forty days has been considered a special and holy number. It rained 40 days and 40 nights on Noah’s ark. The ex-slaves wandered in the desert 40 years and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness lasted for 40 days.
In the early church (circa 300AD) new members were received at Easter, the highest holy day of the Christian Calendar, the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. So the 40 days before Easter was a time of preparation for new believers and the faithful.
Lent is a time of impending death. Like a family dealing with a terminal illness (sin) this is a somber time. We use dark colors, black for death and purple for blood and royalty. Some churches avoid blooming flowers, others strip the church of all decorations. We use a different candle arrangement, putting out light as we get closer to Good Friday. (The reverse of Advent) Other’s avoid Alleluia’s in worship to mark the seriousness of the season.
We each try in our own way to enter into the impending death so that we can enter into the resurrection of Easter.
Because Jesus fasted and prayed, Christians have fasted and prayed. This is especially so in Lent. Sometimes this takes the form of special church events, studies, personal devotions, or resolutions.
Giving up something for lent is a symbolic form of fasting. Some have suggested we fast from: violence or TV or fast from a harmful habit, or attitude. Catholics used to give up (fast from) meat during lent. More recently, Protestants have discovered the spiritual value of fasting in one of several forms.
Many people fast and pray through Lent. Lent can also be a time for generosity and caring. If you are looking for a spiritual practice that goes deeper than giving up chocolate, consider this!This year our congregation is following the lead of the Presbyterian Women and joining in a different kind of fast. Each week we are bringing a designated food for our local Food Pantry.
Lent 1 February 22 Canned Vegetables Lent 4 March 15 Soup, stew, peanut butter, etc
Lent 2 March 1 Pasta/Mac and Cheese Lent 5 March 22 Prepared Meals
Lent 3 March 8* Canned Fruit Palm Sunday 3/29 Breakfast items,
Easter 4/5 Healthy Snacks Granola bars, Juice boxes, Peanut Butter, Popcorn
The Calendar for Lent began with Ash Wednesday. We were marked with ashes as a sign of our mortality and repentance. Lent ends with Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (the last Supper), Good Friday (the crucifixion), Black Saturday (there is no light, Christ is in the tomb) and, of course, Easter (our celebration of the resurrection).
We look forward to the Easter Sunrise Service at Camp Wood followed by fellowship and worship at the church at 10:30.
Spring is a season for new life, new growth from what seemed dead. Lent is the time to prepare the garden of your heart. To break up what is hard, water what is dry and plant seeds for God to grow in you. “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
May your Lent be a blessed and growing time. Pat
* Don't forget Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday, March 8th.