Looking at Lent

“They would have repented ..
 in sackcloth and ashes”
(Matthew 11:21)

In the West Lent starts on Ash Wednesday which this year falls on 6 March 2019. Good Friday is on 19 April and Easter Sunday on 21 April.

The ‘40 days’ of Lent are associated with the 40 days of Jesus fasting in the desert. The 6 Sundays are excluded in the calculation as they are said to represent either the day of rest or the day of Jesus victory over death. 

In many churches there will be special services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Journey to Easter. The theme is Penitence. Ashes will be blessed and used as a symbol of repentance. People will receive the sign of the cross, in ashes, on their foreheads. These ashes are normally prepared from the Palm Crosses used on Palm Sunday the previous year and are a reminder of both our creation and our fall – ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.’  As people receive the cross of ashes they are exhorted to

“Turn away from sin and believe the good news.”

Lent is important. It reminds us of the need to reflect upon the love and holiness of God and the selfishness and sinfulness of the world.  Repentance is important for it recognises that we need change and help and saving – from ourselves, from each other, from the consequences of our actions and from the actions of the evil one. And unless we recognise our own sin we don’t recognise the need for a Saviour or understand what it is that He is about.

In many ways what is known as the Lent fast has been trivialised. The true significance of Lent is recognising the awesome sacrifice that Christ made for us, and the self –denial and suffering that was involved. What we give up should be a reminder of, and association with, that greater sacrifice, and not a source of personal satisfaction. Scripturally our ‘fasting’ is between God and ourselves and should be kept private.

Lent is also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the holiness and love of God, the enormous blessing of knowing Him – and the great need for Him in our lives and the life of the world in which we live today.

This year you might also like to think of giving God an extra few minutes every day to pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and deliberately. On the first day adapt and pray it for yourself. On the next day/s pray it for individual members of your family. Then pray individually for the people with whom you work and associate every day. After that choose your church and country leaders and someone in the news who is suffering in some way .. and so on. Devote each day to a different individual. And if you travel on public transport pray the prayer for someone near you. 


Father – please help me to accept this opportunity to journey with You every day, and in so doing to draw closer to You. Please shine Your light into my life and into the lives of those for whom I pray. Amen.



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