Typically we don’t talk about celebrating Lent, but rather observing it. Lent is a time of reflection and repentance sandwiched in between two periods of celebration: Epiphany, or Carnival depending on your tradition, and Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. During Lent we consider the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert praying and fasting in preparation for His public ministry. While there Jesus was tempted and given the choice to turn His back on His calling. He chose to continue and make His way toward the cross. We are also given a choice, to ask God to create a new heart within us, and to renew our commitment to Him.
Traditionally, Lent is a time when people deny themselves of luxuries. This may entail fasting in a conventional sense or simply giving up something that means a lot to you. Some examples that I’ve seen are fasting during daylight hours, giving up meat or chocolate, giving up a bad habit. Often this time can be life changing. My uncle gave up smoking one year during Lent and never went back.
Another way to observe the season is to take on something new that is a sacrifice for you. This could include things such as, fasting one meal a day and donating the money that you would spend to a cause or making a commitment to visit shut-ins from your church. Sometimes giving up money or time is more difficult for us than giving up food.
To mark the beginning of Lent we observe two special days. Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the last day of the Epiphany or Carnival season. In the past giving up foods that were considered luxuries meant giving up butter, fat, and sugar. Because of this, Fat Tuesday is traditionally celebrated with pancakes to use up the forbidden foods.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, there is a call to repentance where believers foreheads are marked with ashes. In the Bible, wearing sackcloth and ashes is an indication of mourning or a contrite heart. The ashes used may be mixed with water or oil and are usually the ash that results from burning the palm leaves from the previous Palm Sunday.
This week we will observe both Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday at our church.
Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper – Tuesday Feb 21 at 6:00 pm, we will celebrate in the fellowship hall with a pancake supper. The evening will also include fun and games. There is no cost for the supper, but a donation will be taken up for missions.
Ash Wednesday Service – Wednesday Feb 22 at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary. I’m not sure what Pastor John has in mind, but this service is usually short and a quiet time for personal reflection. Of course, any commitments you make for the period of Lent are between you and God, but this service gives us a chance to mark the beginning of the period of self-sacrifice.
Anyone is welcome to join us in one or both of these gatherings. You don’t have to be a member of our church to celebrate with us.