By: Peter Paselk, Director of Worship & Music
The word lent has its origin in the same root as one of the German words of “spring,” Lenz. As nature awakens from the death of winter, so the Christian finds newness of life in Christ, rising from sin’s death. Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. Lent is a time in which we pray that we may be given the fullness of grace that belongs to the children of God. Lent is a time in which God renews His people’s zeal in faith and life.
When is Lent? It's the forty days before Easter. Lent excludes Sundays because every Sunday is like a little Easter. Basically, it's about one-tenth of a year (like a tithe of time).
So the real beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday? Yes. Ash Wednesday usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and re-turn our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. At our Ash Wednesday services, our pastors mark the sign of the cross on our foreheads with ashes.
Why ashes? The use of ashes is a poignant symbol of repentance and mortality throughout Scripture. “I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6b) “For dust you are and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) The imposition of ashes has been therefore a fitting beginning to the season of Lent. Ashes are usually the remains of the previous Palm Sunday’s burned palms and are applied to the forehead in the sign of the cross. Although ashes remind us of the Law and the subsequent consequences for our disobedience, ashes also remind us of the Gospel – as they are applied in the shape of a cross – the place where Jesus conquered sin, death, hell, and Satan.
Please join us for Ash Wednesday services on March 1st at 11:00am and 7:00pm and then for our Midweek Lenten worship services every Wednesday during the forty days of Lent at 11:00am and 7:00pm. Our sermon series will be “The Customs of Lent." Among God’s many gifts to the church, some are the most precious are the customs and symbols which enrich the expression of our faith. We use these as we stand before the Cross of Christ. This year we will do so by considering some of the customs associated with the season of Lent: Ashes, Fasting, Penitence, Foot Washing, the Veil, and Palms. May God richly bless your worship this Lenten season and bring you through the darkness of ashes to the light of forgiveness.