Season of Lent

Grace Church

 Season of Lent & Devotional Guides

The Lent tradition began in the early third and fourth centuries of the early church. The practice derived from the biblical narrative of the people of Israel being tested in the wilderness for 40 years, as well as from Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. The church has adopted this 40-day period as a season of preparation and repentance in anticipation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter day.

In Latin, Lent means, “dawning of the sun.” Lent is also known as springtime, fitting imagery for a season of the Church year that is intentional about self-examination and preparation. The process of the “dawning of the sun” is both revealing and restorative. The sun pushes back the shadows that have covered the ground and reveals all that has withered. The sun then applies its restorative property, offering nourishment to the ground and vegetation, once again yielding life. The spiritual life is similar. The season of Lent offers a time when we take a closer look at what lurks within us, within the shadows. At the same time, we are offered nourishment and restoration that is found only in the life and death of Jesus Christ.

 Grace Church Lent Devotional 2018

 

For further study:

ONLINE

Register for Daily Readings by West End Presbyterian Church PCA

BOOKS

Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter

Lent and Easter Wisdom from St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi (Lent and Easter Wisdom) 

What is Ash Wednesday?  

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. By the fourth century the Western church determined that the Lenten period of fasting and renewal should correspond to Christ’s forty-day fast (Matt. 4:2), and, by counting forty days back from Easter (excluding Sundays, which remain “feast” days), arrived at the Wednesday seven weeks before Easter. At one time Lent was primarily viewed as a period during which converts prepared for baptism on Easter Sunday, but later the season became a general time of penitence and renewal for all Christians. Thus Ash Wednesday became the day that marked the beginning of the Lenten renewal.

The aim of Ash Wednesday worship is threefold: to meditate on our mortality, sinfulness, and need of a savior; to renew our commitment to daily repentance in the Lenten season and in all of life; and to remember with confidence and gratitude that Christ has conquered death and sin. Ash Wednesday worship, then, is filled with gospel truth. It is a witness to the power and beauty of our union with Christ and to the daily dying and rising with Christ that this entails.

The imposition of ashes is often a central part of the worship service. Ashes have a long history in biblical and church traditions. In Scripture ashes or dust symbolize frailty or death (Gen. 18:27), sadness or mourning (Esther 4:3), judgment (Lam. 3:16), and repentance (Jon. 3:6). Some traditions also have considered ash a purifying or cleansing agent. All these images are caught up in the church’s use of ashes as a symbol appropriate for Lent. In Christ’s passion we see God’s judgment on evil; in our penitence we express sorrow and repentance for our sins; in our rededication we show that we are purified and renewed. The ashes, which often are the burnt residue of the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday, are often mixed with a little water and carried in a small dish. As the leader goes from worshiper to worshiper, or as worshipers come forward, the leader dips a finger in the moist ash and makes a cross on each person’s forehead (the “imposition”), saying words such as “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or, “Consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Jesus Christ.”