Glencairn Methodist Church
A time to do justice, love kindness
and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)
Originating in the fourth century, The Season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday (this year on 9th March) and climaxing with the events of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Originally it was a time of preparation, with concentrated study and prayer, for those who were to be baptized at Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Day (this year on 24th April). But since these new members were to be received into a living Community of Faith, the entire community was called to preparation.
In the Bible the number 40 is connected with many significant events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling from God the Father. (Read about this in Matthew chapter 4, verses 1 to 11).
Christians today use Lent as a time for self examination and repentance. A time when we recognise who we truly are, sinners! But also a time when we realise that we are loved and forgiven and restored by Christ through the cross.
Lent has traditionally been marked by prayer, fasting and giving to charity. Some people give up something physical e.g. alcohol, luxury food, meat. Others find it helpful consciously to give up certain behaviours e.g. gossiping, self-centredness, lying or misrepresenting situations, bitterness. And still others deliberately seek to do good, especially on behalf of those lacking what they need for a decent life. Lent is a spiritual pilgrimage we must make one way or the other for genuine spiritual renewal to come.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we read, "if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." The prayer that is called for here is penitential prayer by the faith community, by us. It is not a call for others to repent; it is a call for us, God’s people, to repent. It is our land that needs healed, it is our wicked ways from which we need to turn, we are the ones who need to seek God’s face.
So we give thanks for Lent.
We think about how we will use it well, how we may use the personal and spiritual insights of Lent to understand better the power of new life at Easter.
1 March 2011
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm