The Christian season of Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons in the church.
Lent is 40 days (not including Sundays) from Ash Wednesday until Easter. It is a period observed by Christians as preparation for Easter, involving fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. For many it is a time to give something up whether it be chocolate, wine, TV, etc. and includes not eating meat on Ash Wednesday or Fridays.
Ash Wednesday, which is March 6th this year, is very popular and many people attend services. The date for Ash Wednesday is calculated as 40 days before Easter not counting Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The date for Easter changes and is based on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Kind of a mouth-full to recite but that is the easiest way to remember how the date for Easter is derived. Graphic by Julio Aldana/Shutterstock
The liturgical color for lent is purple. A violet-hued color that helps us focus our attention on fasting and repentance and draws us into Christ’s Passion. The color is also associated with royalty. The church décor is sparse and barren setting the tone for contemplation.
I think the reason that Ash Wednesday is well attended is that it is one of the days in the church year that gives us “permission” to think about our own mortality.
“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” traditional words spoken when the priest or liturgical minister traces the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the faithful. “Repent and believe in the Gospel” is another version of this. When we attend Ash Wednesday, we are in community and we realize we are all finite beings, hopeful for an eternal dwelling place. We too shall leave this world someday. We better make it count!
Lent is not only about giving up things but is a conversion of heart. It is looking at our actions and placing them under a microscope. It is an emptying, clearing out the clutter and any woundedness or ways that are contrary to being a follower of Christ and to make space for the blessings in our lives. To make room for God.
Check out my previous blog at provedinthefire.blogspot.com. Happy Lent!