Ash Wednesday 7pm 2/10/2016

Keeping a holy Lent

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered after the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. This practice is common in much of Christendom, being celebrated by Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and some Baptist denominations.
Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one's penitence is found in Job 42:3–6. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (vv. 5–6, KJV) The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: "O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes" (Jer 6:26).The prophet Daniel pleaded for God this way: "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan and Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a forty day liturgical period of prayer and fasting and marks the start of a period which reminds us of the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted. Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–13. The 40-day period of repentance is also analogous to the 40 days during which Moses repented and fasted in response to the making of the Golden calf. Jews today follow a 40-day period of repenting during the High Holy Days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur.

Ash Wednesday is often observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance—a day of contemplating one's transgressions. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer designates Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting. In the medieval period, Ash Wednesday was the required annual day of penitential confession occurring after fasting and the remittance of the tithe.

At St Barnabas, we observe Ash Wednesday with the imposition of Ashes throughout the day with a time of penitence followed by a celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) in the evening. All are welcome to join in the day’s observances.

The Season of Lent begins Feb 10, 2016

Lent banners from the Quilting Guild

Do you ever feel like you would like to slow life down a bit? Our culture does not encourage time away from work, noise, bad news, and hectic schedules. Since the beginning of Christianity, communities of faith have understood the need for reflection and contemplation. Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal (Easter) feast, or Pascha (Book of Common Prayer, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history.

Fasting became attached to, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).

Is fasting required to observe Lent? No. Each person is encouraged to find some way to "dial back" and recenter. Fasting typically takes on the form of not eating a favorite food, giving up of some activity, but fasting can also include adding an activity such as a special time of prayer and reflection, or intentional time set aside to assist in a food kitchen.

The last three days of Lent are known as the sacred Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

At St. Barnabas, we do a number of things to signify the importance of this season of prayer and preparation for the joy of Eastertide. There is no ornamentation in the worship space. The Chalice (cup) and Paten (plate for the bread) from which the Lord's Supper is served are made of simple pottery. Music is more somber and often in minor keys. The holy water font is drained to signify the Lord's time in the desert wilderness before beginning his ministry and our thirst for Him.

Join us for this yearly pilgrimage when we renew our commitment to follow Jesus.