By Martina Duncan
The day following the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper is known as Ash Wednesday (this year it falls on February 14). On that evening at 7 p.m., we will be having a service St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Ashcroft, so please come to learn about the importance of this ritual, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. And starting on February 21, we will be holding a six-week Lenten Study series
Ashes are a significant part of this service, and each person who wishes so is marked with a sign of the cross. The ashes come from the palm crosses carried the year prior on Palm Sunday. On that day we remember when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while Pilate, on a giant warhorse, was parading in on the other side of town with legions of soldiers. The palm crosses remind us of the palm branches that were waved by the crowds at Jesus’s arrival. The crosses are burned to create the ashes and are mixed with oil, which is then marked on a person’s forehead or palm to remind him or her, each year, that we are renewed and reborn in Love.
The tradition of Ash Wednesday originated around the eighth century and goes back to the Hebrew Torah, when the Lord established an annual day of repentance for the Israelites where each humbled him/herself through fasting and prayer.
Our observance of Lent is 40 days in length and ends on Holy Saturday, the day after the Good Friday remembrance of Jesus’s brutal death on the cross. The 40-day period for Christians is a time to reflect, fast, and make amends in preparation for the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. It also reminds us of Jesus’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.
Traditionally, anyone 14 years or older would abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the six Fridays of Lent. The practice has changed over the years, and if a person decides to give up something for Lent it is most often a “guilty pleasure” such as chocolate, sweets, or alcohol. Nowadays we might even consider a fast from social media or our electronics?!
Our usual practice at St. Alban’s is to have a Lenten Study during the season of Lent, and this year is no exception. Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John is this year’s study; it has been written by members of the Society of St. John the Evangelist for our use. It is a six-week journey and reflection on the Gospel of John, beginning on February 21 at 6 p.m., with a light dinner being served at St Alban’s Hall. The study will go from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on February 21 and 28 and on March 7, 14, 21, and 28, and you would be most welcome to join us.
You will receive your own Prayer Journal in order to discover God as One who longs for deep intimacy with each of us. Together we will find that God is our companion, our friend, our confidant, our beloved. Please consider joining us to strengthen your relationship with your Creator. Come and fall in love with God again—or maybe for the very first time…