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Letter From The Rector

The Season of Lent

The Christian Church’s season of Lent is a period of time set aside to help us prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent prepares us for Easter. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the season of Lent sets aside 40 days (not counting Sundays) to review, evaluate, and change our lives and practice new behavior appropriate for members of God’s family. This is repentance. Repentance is an act of contrition. It is to feel such regret or dissatisfaction over what you have done (or failed to do) that you change your attitude or change your ways.

Among the early Christians, Lent was a period of intense instruction in the Christian faith for “penitents”, leading to baptism on the eve of Easter. Today, during Lent, all Christians are invited to adopt a penitential attitude-to conduct a “spiritual housecleaning”- giving up self-serving ways, and practicing new behavior appropriate to God’s baptized people.

The Lenten season has been described as a journey taken each year with stops at traditional points along the way. These stops include: Ash Wednesday, The 1st through 5th Sundays in Lent, Palm (or Passion) Sunday, and Holy Week. All these lead to Easter and the gift of resurrection through our Lord Jesus’ triumph over death. Of course on any journey you’ll find signs along the way. Some of the “signs” of Lent include:

+ The disappearance of “alleluia” from our worship services beginning Ash Wednesday. In medieval times some Christians actually placed an “alleluia puppet” in a casket in the church until Easter when the puppet (and the word alleluia) were resurrected in the service.

+ The “mark of ashes” on the forehead (Ash Wednesday). The Jews used ashes as an outward sign of repentance, a practice continued by early Christians- but discontinued by many of the Church reformers. So, while ashes today may remind us of dust and our own mortality, it is more in keeping with Lent to see ashes as a sign of our repentance- turning away from sin and being faithful to the Christian faith.

+ The display of the colors purple and black in church. Purple (or violet) represents repentance and is used during most of Lent. Black represents mourning and is used on Good Friday.

+ Lenten self-denial- This is usually thought of as “giving up something” for Lent rather than “practicing giving” for Easter. But when you “give up” sinful, self-serving ways, you should also “take on” new ways to give time and energy and forgiveness to one another, as Christ gave himself for us. This is the heart of the Easter message and the heart of Lenten preparation.

And so, my friends “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent....” I hope you will choose to participate in as many ways as is possible for you.

Peace and Love,
John+