We are on the cusp of entering the Season of Lent, followed by our journey through Holy Week, culminating in the powerful events of Easter Sunday. It is one of the most sacred and holy seasons in the church calendar. Perhaps you might like to have a little background information to enhance your journey.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which falls 40 days prior to Easter. Sundays are never included in the count of these days because Sunday is always a “little Easter” meant to celebrate resurrection because we, after all, are an Easter people.
At every Ash Wednesday service, there is a ceremonial imposition of ashes, either on the forehead or the hands, to symbolize entering into the penitential Season of Lent. The wearing of ashes, made from the burning of the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday, is considered a sign of repentance, an appropriate way to enter the Lenten Season.
The liturgical colour for Lent is purple, reflecting divinity, wisdom, dignity, mystery and creativity. Purple is a penitential colour, evoking sadness and deep reflection. In the first century CE, purple dye was very hard to come by, so only the wealthy could afford purple garments. But, today, purple vestments and banners adorn the church.
Here is some other information you might find interesting because people are always asking the question, Why does Easter fall on a different Sunday every year? Easter is a moveable feast in the church, celebrated in Western Christianity (that’s us!) on the first Sunday after the first astronomical full moon on or after the vernal (spring) equinox. Thus Easter falls between March 22nd and April 23rd on the Gregorian calendar. Easter Day within Eastern Christianity is calculated in the same manner, but follows the Julian calendar, using the actual vernal equinox date at the meridian of Jerusalem, and with the added condition that Easter must fall after Passover (the feast celebrated by our Jewish sisters and brothers). There are currently talks underway exploring the possibility of fixing the date of Easter to the second or third Sunday of April. This would allow all Christians, around the world, to celebrate Easter on the same day.
This year, at Central, we have produced a Lenten Reflection Booklet, entitled “Travelling with Jesus During Lent.” It represents the reflections of over 30 people who took time to comment on assigned passages of scripture. It is our gift to you as you begin your Lenten journey. May your faith be deepened and your relationship with God be strengthened on the journey. Blessings, Linda