We have celebrated Advent every year that Journey has been a church. It is the joyful 4 weeks before Christmas as we anticipate and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s fun, meaningful and memorable. The birth of Jesus is one of the two most important holidays for Christians. The most important, as you can probably guess, is Easter.
The weeks leading up to Easter are equally important if not more so.
It is, however, very different.
Where Christmas celebrates new birth, Easter reminds us of necessary death.
Death that was necessary to atone for our sins and pave a way back to the people God created us to be.
It’s somber, serious and, potentially, life altering.
Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday (not counting Sundays).
It has been marked by restraint and fasting by believers since the Council of Nicea in 325 AD where Christians were encouraged to seriously consider the weight of our sin that required the brutal crucifixion of Christ and the enormity of His gift to us.
The history of fasting at lent comes from the 40 days of fasting that Jesus participated in the desert before beginning His public ministry. It can be fasting from food, activity or any practice that would cost you something to do without it for 40 days.
We will celebrate Lent for the first time as a church beginning this Wednesday, February 26th with a special Ash Wednesday Service. It will be marked by a quiet reverence, communion, worship and the historic practicing of placing ashes on all those that would like to participate, either through a cross on your forehead or the top of your hand.
You will decide what you would like to give up for 40 days (46 including Sundays) and will practice that restraint until Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter.
This can be a special time for reflection and worship if you so choose. It is also a good time to invite someone to experience the deeper meaning of our faith. It will start at 6:30pm and will end no later than 7:30pm.
I hope you will join me in preparing your heart and mind for this Easter season.