Preparing for the resurrection

Lent is weeks away

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 2/8/17

FLEMING ISLAND – Within weeks, Christians around the world will begin preparing for Easter, but first they must take part in Lent.

“Lent is a period of preparation for the celebration of the …

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Preparing for the resurrection

Lent is weeks away

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Within weeks, Christians around the world will begin preparing for Easter, but first they must take part in Lent.

“Lent is a period of preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus,” said Mike McDonald, a pastor at Grace Anglican Church on Fleming Island.

This year, the annual tradition of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year, is March 1.

Traditionally, churches that practice Lent observe 40 days in which those observing are to spend their time considering their need for a savior.

Historically, Lent was used for people who had a notorious status of sinning and were asking to be brought back into the religious community, according to McDonald. Now, a large portion of the church community recognizes Lent as a practice that all can participate in.

Lent kicks off with Ash Wednesday. On this day, churchgoers receive ashes on their forehead as a representation of mortality, sins and a need for a savior, according to McDonald.

McDonald said that during Lent, Sundays begin with confession, rather than later in the service as usual.

The week before Easter Sunday, the church practices Holy Week, a week that starts on Palm Sunday, or the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday represents Jesus Christ’s historic entry into Jerusalem. The service takes a dark turn when the church recognizes that Christ came into the city to die on the cross, according to McDonald.

The following Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday. This day represents when Christ washed the feet of his disciples. During this Thursday service, the clergy quite literally wash the feet of those at church, or at least at McDonald’s church they do.

The next day, Good Friday, a service takes place that starts bright and cheerful and is driven by music. As the church recognizes Christ’s procession to the cross, the service begins a different narrative and the ends in darkness, representing the death of Christ.

Three days later, Easter Sunday is celebrated, which is meant to represent the day that Christ rose from the grave, according to McDonald.

Easter Sunday falls later than usual this year – April 16 – but according to Rev. Hall Hunt, pastor of The Good Samaritan Church in Middleburg, churches are prepared for this.

“The season we are currently in, called ‘Epiphany’, expands and contracts to the dates of Easter and Lent,” Hunt said.

“Easter always moves,” Hunt said, “so you back up 46 days before Easter and the Wednesday before that sixth Sunday prior to Easter, is Ash Wednesday.”

Essentially, just as Easter moves, so too does Ash Wednesday, but it always moves in accordance with Easter.

Traditionally, those partaking in Lent would fast, but Hunt said that people these days are generally more relaxed on this.

“Some of the more hardcore people fast the entire time, even on Sundays,” Hunt said. “A lot of people just fast on the Fridays during Lent.”

Regardless of what kind of fasting parishioners might do, it always ends on Easter Sunday, the day that represents Christ’s resurrection, according to Hunt.

Hunt believes that Lent for some is more relaxed, while for others, it’s a very serious time.

“In the U.S., it’s not as serious as other places,” Hunt said, “but for some people, it is a time to get serious with the Lord, and to fast, to pray, to read scripture and to seek the Lord.”

Hunt wants people to know and understand that Lent is a period of time about the Lord and for the Lord.

“Lent, like everything else, is about Jesus Christ,” Hunt said. “It’s all to give praise to him.”

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