The season of Lent began this year on Ash Wednesday, February 10th. The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word for spring: “lencten” – literally, the “lengthening” of daylight that accompanies the change of season. I like this more positive understanding of Lent. For too long, it has been seen as a kind of ecclesiastical mid-winter; a gloomy season of self-flagellation and austerity. The popular devotional practices associated with Lent, such as “giving up” a favorite food or pleasure, have tended to reinforce this concept. Lenten discipline certainly has its place, of course; yet there is much more to this season than our individual acts of self-denial.
Lent is the spring season of the Christian year. We begin with Ash Wednesday and its message to take seriously our own mortality, and to open our lives anew to God’s redeeming grace.
The Bible readings, prayers, and liturgy of the season call us back to the central truths of our Christian faith. We deny ourselves and observe Lenten practices, not to make ourselves miserable (as if that somehow would please God), but to simplify our busy lives, and to make more time for spiritual things. Lent isn’t meant to be gloomy; rather, it is a time for renewal, healing, and growth in Christ. By keeping a holy Lent, we prepare ourselves to enter into the mystery of the Cross and the joy of the Resurrection at Easter.
Lent isn’t just about our individual faith; it is a journey that the Church takes together as we seek to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and become more truly the Body of Christ. I invite you to be a part of our Lenten journey at St. Alban’s. Please join us for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am and Wednesday evening at 6:00 pm. We are offering two special Lenten programs: on Sunday mornings after the 10 am service, we will have a DVD presentation on the 7 Last Words of Jesus From the Cross; and on Wednesday mornings at 11 am, we will study the topic of forgiveness. You are warmly invited to attend.
Rev. John Peters, rector