Lent


 

 

Lent: Candlemas on February 2nd marks the very end of Christmas. Yes, I know you probably thought Christmas was over long ago! But in terms of the Christian year, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are all part of one long season that marks the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. This is like "The Jesus Story Part 1" What comes next is "The Jesus Story Part 2"!

Lent starts the day after Shrove Tuesday. This is the proper name for Pancake Day. It was traditional to eat up all rich foods in the form of pancakes before Lent began the next day and people started to eat more simply. Christians used to go to church on this day to make their confession and be forgiven or "shriven" - hence the name "shrove" Tuesday.

The day after Shrove Tuesday is Ash Wednesday, when Lent really starts. In church on this day, when Christians confess their sins, they are marked with ashes as a reminder of our mortality. (The ashes are made by burning the previous year's palm crosses) One day all of us will return to "dust and ashes" as we say at the funeral service. Lent then continues for the next forty days, not counting Sundays.

Lent is a solemn time, when Christians try to live more simply. Some fast (go without food for set times) or cut out luxuries as a spiritual discipline. It also helps remind us what some people have to do without every day through no choice of their own! During Lent Christians are especially encouraged to support charities that care for the needy, and may hold events to raise money for these, such as frugal Lent Lunches, etc.

The whole point of Lent is to recall the human life of Jesus, how he was tempted in the wilderness, how he faced opposition even though he healed people and taught them about the love of God, and how, eventually, he suffered and died on the cross. Some people like to think of Lent as a kind of journey in which they travel with Jesus and deepen their faith by reflecting on his life and teaching.

The colour for Lent is purple and the church will have purple hangings and vestments during this season. There is a bit of light relief in the middle of Lent for Mothering Sunday - but more of that later.

 

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