The Season of Lent begins this year at the end of February with Ash Wednesday on February 26. The word Lent comes from the word for lengthen and is associated with spring when the days grow longer. Lent lasts for forty days (not counting Sundays). Forty is one of the holy numbers in the Bible: it rained for forty days and nights in the time of Noah; the Hebrew children spent forty years in the wilderness; and Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days. Lent began as a time for converts to Christianity to prepare themselves for baptism on Easter Sunday. It has become a time for all believers to deepen their faith and reflect on Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.
The night before Lent is traditionally called Shrove or Fat Tuesday. Because Lent is a time of penitence, when many people fast or at least give up certain foods, the tradition developed to try to use up all the fat in the household before Lent began. Fat Tuesday, therefore, became a day to eat pancakes fried in the last of the fat. Here at Mill Plain the choir prepares a pancake supper in keeping with this tradition.
Ash Wednesday is the official start to Lent. It is a time to reflect on our mortality and sin. Ashes made from palms from Palm Sunday are placed on people’s foreheads to indicate their sorrow for their sin and also in
recognition that we will not live forever. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
The Worship Committee invites you to begin your Lenten Journey at self-directed Ash Wednesday stations set up in the sanctuary. Six tables will be set up around the sanctuary with different activities for each person to do on his or her own schedule. The activities invite participants to reflect on our Lenten journey in different ways and do not need to be done in any particular order. The tables will be set up and open starting at 6 p.m. on February 26. Participants will be given a “passport” with stamps at each table to mark this journey.
I think it is fitting that on Ash Wednesday we also start our time of hosting the Winter Hospitality Overflow Shelter at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church. As we think about Jesus’ journey among us as the Man of Sorrows, we know Jesus is present among us especially in those who suffer. Helping to care for women and families struggling with homelessness is a great way for us to begin Lent.
Next month we’ll think more about the ending of Lent with Holy Week. Stay tuned.