THE LENTEN SEASON - A REFLECTION BY REV ASTOR CARLYLE.
Over the years, I have come to realize, that not everyone, not even among us Christians has a full understanding of the significance of the day we call “Ash Wednesday”, and the period of time, we refer to as ‘Lent.- ‘Ash Wednesday’, ‘Maudy Thursday’, ‘Good Friday’, and the periods we call ‘Lent’ and Easter, have not held to my mind, the significant recognition they deserve in the minds and Christian life of many.
So let me share with you some thoughts about the significance of the day we mark as “Ash Wednesday”, and how it relates to what ‘Lent’ is about and the relationship to the period of ‘Easter”.
‘Ash Wednesday’ is the first day of Lent. For us as Christians, the day is a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God. It marks the beginning of the penitential Lenten season, which some denominations observe with fasting and the rubbing of ashes on the forehead in the sign of the cross –The ashes when used, symbolizes grief for the things we’ve done wrong and the resulting division of imperfect people from a perfect God.
The 40 days which follow (not including Sundays), up to the Saturday before Easter, encompass Lent,
Lent is often described as “a time of preparation and an opportunity to go deeper with God.” This means that it is a time for personal reflection that prepares people’s hearts and minds for “Good Friday” and “Easter”. Many focus on three main things during Lent: prayer, fasting (or abstaining from something to reduce distractions and focus more on God) and giving, or charity.
Prayer during Lent focuses on our need for God’s forgiveness. It is also about repenting (turning away from our sins) and receiving God’s mercy and love. Fasting, or giving something up, is a very common practice during Lent. The idea is that ‘giving up’ something that is a regular part of life, can be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice. Charity, or giving money or doing something good for others, is a way to respond to God’s grace, generosity and love.
We should be reminded however, that these things can never make us earn or deserve Jesus’ sacrifice or a relationship with God. We are all flawed people, and will never be good enough for a perfect God. Only Jesus has the power to rescue us from ourselves.
‘Maundy Thursday’, the day before ‘Good Friday’, commemorates the night before Jesus died, when He shared the ‘Passover’ meal with His closest friends and followers; while, “Good Friday” is the day Christians remember Jesus’ death. -The day is deemed “Good”, because it reflects Jesus’ death as a sacrifice on our behalf, so that we can receive God’s forgiveness for our wrongs, or sins.
Easter Sunday therefore, is the joyful celebration of Jesus rising from the dead to give us the opportunity of eternal life. For, while people still die, Jesus made the way for us to have a relationship with God in this life and to spend eternity with Him in heaven!
As we engage his Lenten Season, may we employ the discipline it requires. May our hearts be sincere in connecting with Our LORD and Saviour as we become more a reflection of HIM in our world.