Rev. David writes:
The word ‘Lent’ is not in the Bible, so why do we have this curious season in the church calendar? There is more to Lent than first meets the eye. It lasts for forty days (not including Sundays) and at its heart is a time when Christians reflect in earnest on their own faith journey in preparation for the celebrations of Easter. Some people fast, eat frugally or give up treats following the example of Jesus, who fasted for forty days in the wilderness.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent; ashes made from burned palm crosses are blessed and used to make crosses on people's foreheads (a custom from the middle ages). Ash Wednesday services set the tone for Lent, with a focus on saying sorry for things we have done that have offended God and hurt other people. As the priest makes the sign of the cross they say, ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.’
Holy Week is the name given to the week beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday. On Palm Sunday Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to crowds and cheers waving palm branches. This has been celebrated on the Sunday before Easter since the first centuries of Christianity. Churches remember this with crosses made from palm leaves and hold processions like the one that Jesus experienced.
During Holy Week, Maundy Thursday is the day when we remember Jesus sharing the Last Supper with his disciples before his death, the Latin word mandare meaning to command. At the Last Supper Jesus washed the disciples' feet and commanded them to : 'Love one another as I have loved you’. After this meal Jesus went to pray on the Mount of Olives with his disciples; it was here that the authorities arrested him and took him away. He was tried and sentenced in the same day.
Good Friday is the day when Christians remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a sombre day; usually, churches meet, pray and reflect on the sacrifice Jesus willingly paid for all our sins. On Easter Sunday, churches hold celebration services because Jesus died for our sins and then rose again. On the third day after being crucified, Jesus' tomb was found to be empty. He had risen from the dead. Life triumphs over death! The joy of resurrection is possible only because Christ endured death and conquered it.
Lent begins with personal reflection (a reality check) on what it means to be human; how we live, our attitudes and motives, and how we treat other people. In doing so we ask God to transform our lives by his goodness, in order that our faith is deepened and enriched. But it doesn’t stop there. Lent always ends with joy and celebration, this is the good news of Jesus Christ!
Sadly, we're not able to meet together to journey through Lent and Holy Week this year, so here are a few suggestions for some activities you might like to consider doing either individually or as families:
Lent of course remembers the time when Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the wilderness preparing for his ministry here on Earth. At times during the last twelve months, for many of us, it will have felt like an experience in the wilderness, particularly throughout times of lockdown. During Lent, it may be that you would find guided reflections helpful and inspiring. You can sign up for free to the Church of England’s Lent Reflections here. Each reflection will include a short passage from the Bible, a brief exploration of the reading, and a prayer. Additionally, each week will have a unifying theme and an action to be taken during the week.
Family Readings and Activities
Why not travel through Lent as a family? There's something for both adults and children to read and do each day here.
Read with a Friend
Why not get together in a pair - obviously by phone or internet - to choose a book (see below for some ideas) and then discuss it through Lent. Or maybe read one of the gospels and discuss it. Of course, you can do this alone if you wish.
Devotional Reading Suggestions
Have a look here to see some books reviewed recently in the Church Times.
All Hallows Easter Garden Competition
Please drop by on Sunday 28th March (between 2-5pm) at All Hallows’ Church, to pick up your free ‘Easter Garden’ kit. We will be outside the church and look forward to giving away 100 kits. If we have any kits left over, we’ll leave them inside the porch. Enjoy collecting moss, stones and whatever else you can find, to build your own miniature Easter Garden at home. If you’d like to enter our competition, please bring your ‘Easter Garden’ back to All Hallows Church by Saturday 3rd April at 12noon. There will be prizes for the winning gardens! For further information, contact Rev. Nicky at firstname.lastname@example.org