Ash Wednesday – February 26 – marks the beginning of Lent. During Lent the liturgical color in church changes to purple, the traditional color of penitence, and in our worship we omit the Gloria and the Alleluia (referred to in Lent as the “A” word.)
Lent means “spring”, (from lencten, referring to the lengthening of days in spring.) The season lasts forty days, being the number of days Christ spent in the wilderness. Lent ends just before the Easter Vigil. (In case you started to add up the days and got a different number, Sundays are not included in the forty days.)
It is traditional for Christians to mark Lent with fasting and acts of penitence. For some, this means self-examination, acts of self-denial, and extended and regular times of prayer and devotional readings. For others of a more Catholic disposition, it is a time to make confession to God through the the Sacrament of Reconciliation (BCP p. 477).
In Lent we call to mind our sins, the times when we have “not loved God with our whole heart” or “not loved our neighbors as ourselves.” We admit our failings and our need for God, as the Collect for the First Sunday of Lent puts it: “Almighty God…as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save.”
Lent is a journey from death (sin) to life (Christ). For this reason, despite the penitential nature of the season, Lent can be extraordinarily life-affirming. Lent provides an opportunity for some soul-cleaning, when you can clear some of the muck from out of your life and unchain yourself from the things that are a burden to you. Begin by asking God to help put your life in order.
At St Barnabas this year there is a full and varied program of Lenten worship, education and retreat. I warmly invite you to join us on the journey to follow Christ. We begin this Wednesday with our two Ash Wednesday Eucharists with imposition of ashes, at 12 noon and 7 pm in the Church.
By the way, the day before Ash Wednesday is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday.) This is a time to let our hair down before putting on the hair shirt! There is a pancake supper in the church hall beginning at 6:30 pm to which you are invited.
May God bless you and grant you a fruitful and holy Lent.