Wednesday February 17 saw members of the congregation in some churches attending services to receive the sign of the cross made with ashes on their foreheads. This was the beginning of the season of Lent that leads up to Easter under the theme penitence.
As a sign of our intention to acknowledge our immortality, human frailty, imperfection and sin, and to repent and believe the Gospel, ashes are blessed and imposed on our foreheads in the sign of a cross.
The Lenten season is one of the most significant times of the year for many Christians around the world. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him.
Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection. The purpose of Lent is to fully recognize our brokenness as humans and the need for a Savior.
The season of Lent is a shining opportunity for experiencing “the unsearchable riches of Christ”, a time for spiritual growth so that we might walk in newness of life. Let us determine how we can take advantage of this opportunity and then dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to our Lenten practice. Lent is the time for new life and hope. In the Lenten season, self-examination is crucial. An individual’s response to the call for purposeful reflection on one’s need for God, is an important factor in choosing how one will observe Lent.
Some ideas for observing Lent: Prayer:
- Take a daily “Time Out” for God. Go to a quiet place, light a candle and read the Bible
- Read a book about God
- Write a thankfulness journal
- Spend time listening to God, rather than speaking to Him. Fasting
- Set aside one day a week on which you will go without one meal, and spend an equivalent time intentionally seeking God’s presence with you.
- Almsgiving -Give up eating/drinking something that you like and/or give up watching television or some other activity and donate the money saved and time saved
- Bring non-perishable food items to a place where they will be taken to the poor and needy;
- Donate money to charity
- Visit or call someone who is a shut-in, ill, alone, or otherwise needs a friendly touch
- Invite someone who lives alone to have a meal with you and your family or cook and deliver a meal to someone who is ill or grieving or alone.
Joel 2:12-14-“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate.
Excerpt from Anglican Fellowship of Prayer Canada Pamphlet PG-34 (November 2003)