So, Lent is upon us at last. Did you know that today is the penultimate date upon which Ash Wednesday can occur? Well there’s today’s factoid out of the way.
So what’s all the fuss about? Why do people “DO LENT”,and is it really relevent in our modern world? I hope over the next forty-six days (forty days plus the six Sundays in Lent) to pursue this. From experience, I know that some days will be easier than others, so hopefully we can help each other out on the difficult days.
So, Day One: Ash Wednesday….why Ash and why forty days?
Well the forty days are easy:
“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Gospel according to St Mark Ch 1 vv 9-13
But aren’t there forty-six days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday? Well yes, but historically the Church has counted the six Sundays in Lent as “Little Easters”, where we remember Christ’s victory over death and his resurrection. Historically, Lent was a period of fasting in memory of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, when those who were to be received into the Church “catechumens” would undertake the fast to prepare them for the reception of this sacrament, usually of Easter Eve. The period of fasting was set so as to correspond with the six weeks of training, necessary to give the final instruction to those who were to be baptized. Later, the whole church followed the practice, partially in support of the catechumens, and with it grew the idea of a period of penance, Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving (Charity). All in all, Lent, which comes from the German “Lenz” meaning Spring, came to be seen by Christians as a period of preparation and reflection on the Sacrifice of Christ made for us, and in order for us to fully comprehend the enormity of not only that sacrifice, but also that as He died so shall He live; for without the resurrection, the sacrifice would remain just that, and redemption would be meaningless.
So, Day One: Think on that which you wish you hadn’t done and seek God’s forgiveness. if you’ve given something up, ask yourself why you chose to give that thing up, and is it a genuine restriction/hardship i.e. I give up meat because I’m a traditionalist, but also because I know I eat too much of it and it is a genuine deprivation to go without it, likewise I am giving up Facebook because i spend time in meaningless banter, and often say things I would hope I wouldn’t have said had I thought about it. So I’m hoping that I will use the period to re-learn the skill of careful speech.
Finally, follow a course of scripture readings, many examples are available to download. Any given on this blog will of course, be from the Authorised Version….Well it is the four hundredth anniversary.