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The Journey of LENT

From the somber imposition of ashes to the most joyful celebration of the church year, the 40-day journey of Lent offers an opportunity to deepen in faith.  Lent is a season full of traditions that many of us observe, but few truly understand.  So today… I offer a few fun facts about the season of Lent:

  • The 40-days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday and conclude on the Saturday before Easter.  If you take out your calendar and count the days, you will realize that the math does not add up.  There are actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday.  This seeming discrepancy is resolved when you discover that the Sundays of Lent are not included in the Lenten disciplines.  For Christians, Sunday is always the celebration of Easter!
  • The word Lent is derived from Old English- “lencten”- meaning springtime, and Old German- “langitinaz”- meaning the lengthening of days.  Thus, Lent is intricately tied to the coming of the season of Spring.  Like the resurgence of life that Spring brings, Lent is the preparation for the rebirth promised in the Christ’s resurrection on Easter.  Eastern Orthodox Christians describe this season as “bright sadness.”
  • The word Lent and its homonym lent have different meanings.  “lent” is the past tense of “lend”- to offer the use of something with the expectation of its return.  “Lent” with a capital “L” is often observed by sacrificing something in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  The church teaches that such sacrifice offers a pathway to deepening faith.  But truth be told, many of us use the Lenten discipline of sacrifice as an opportunity drop a few pounds or change a bad habit.  I have been known to “sacrifice” my beloved M&Ms or purge my system of Diet Coke for 40 days.  Those sacrifices did little to deepen my faith.  They didn’t even inspire a good change in my dietary habits, because on Easter I always return to my little guilty pleasures.  In other words, during Lent I usually just “lend” my sacrifice with the expectation of return.
  • 40 days… The number 40 in the Bible is a “complete” number.  In the Noah story, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.  The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years after they refused to trust God enough to enter the Promised Land.  Jesus began his ministry with a 40-day time of fasting in the wilderness, when he faces Satan’s temptation.  In each of these accounts, 40 marks the completion of a significant time.  I am wondering if our Lenten journey of 40 days brings a completion that propels us into the celebration of Easter…
  • Have you noticed that Easter is never on the same Sunday?  Why doesn’t the church create a regular pattern of celebration like we do for President’s Day- set in 1968 as the third Monday of February every year?  The Christian church sets the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the Spring Equinox.  If the full Moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the next Sunday.  The beginning of the Lenten season is then calculated by counting back from Easter.  What that really means is most of us will just ask Google when Easter falls each year or wait for the announcement at church.
  • The observance of the season of Lent began with the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.  The church created this season as a time for new believers to prepare for baptism- often observed as part of the Easter vigil.  New converts would go through a season of penance in order to embrace the promise described by St. Paul in II Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation.  The old has gone, the new has come.”  The converts would wear sack cloth and ashes to symbolize their season of penance.  How do we prepare to welcome God’s promise of “new creation”?
  • Lenape Valley Church offers several opportunities during Lent 2022:  
    • o Sunday Worship- Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms- a study of Psalm 23. 
    • o Wednesday Worship @ 7pm- in person and livestream- Prayers of God’s People. 
    • o Lenten Devotional- Be inspired by the faith stories of God’s people.  
    • o Educational experiences: Adult Education- Sunday, 10:15am Oneness Embraced.  Youth Sunday School at 9:15am- TACOS.  Seekers- 1st and 3rd Wednesdays – Prayers of the Bible.  Contact the church office for other opportunities. o Eggstravaganza- Fun for the whole family… That means YOU!  Come and play or come and watch our children at play.  Palm Sunday after worship.   
    • o Maundy Thursday and Good Friday @ 7pm.  These unique worship experiences will change you and prepare you for a full celebration of Easter! 
    • o Easter!!!  Celebrate the SonRise @ 6:10am… Continue the celebration @ 9am and 10:30am.  In person and Livestream.  He is Risen!!!

May your Lenten journey this year inspire re-birth in your walk with the Lord.

Remember, you can put your prayers for the people of Ukraine into action by bringing needed supplies for the refugees to LVC.  If you prefer, monetary donations can be made in this way: Check payable to UNWLA.  Mail to: Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center, 700 N. Cedar Rd, Jenkintown, PA 19046.

With you on the journey,  
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