Lessons on Ash Wednesday
The Response: Psalm 103 or 103:8-14
The Epistle: 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
The Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
From 1st March 2017 we will enter in Lent season. God Almighty give us strength to celebrate Lent This lent season is very important for us. Few of our new generation teens don't know how to celebrate Lent, when it will start. I am going to share some important points on Ash Wednesday , Lent, Good Friday, Holy Week, and Easter.
When does Lent begin? - Lent begins 40 days prior to Easter but Sundays are not included in it. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. The 40 days is significant, as it commemorates the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert and the 40 years the Israelites spent roaming in the desert prior to entering the Holy Land. Since Sundays are a time of celebration representing the resurrection in Christianity, they are not included in the 40 days.
When does Lent end? - Lent Ends the day before Easter Sunday, also known as Holy Saturday. Palm Sunday marks the last week of Lent and commemorates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem to people laying palms at his feet. However, Roman Catholics end Lent at sundown on Holy Thursday when the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins.
How is Lent celebrated? - Two things occur during Lent - fasting and prayer. In the early church the fast was strict, so believers ate only one full meal per day, and meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products were forbidden foods. But today many Christian teens give up other items such as television, Internet or the mobile phone. Orthodox Christians give up both meat and dairy products during Lent. The fasting is used to remind Christians of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and being tempted by Satan.
Who celebrates Lent? - There are several Christian denominations that do not celebrate Lent, but mainly Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches observe Lent. In the Eastern Orthodox church, Lent begins on Monday, and they do not celebrate Ash Wednesday. Other denominations have chosen not to observe the holiday.
What is Ash Wednesday? - Ash Wednesday is, simply put, the beginning of Lent. It is a day of fasting that sets off the 40 days prior to Easter. But why is it an important day and what's with the smudge of ash on the forehead?
What Do People Do on Ash Wednesday? - On Ash Wednesday Christians go to church to receive ash on their foreheads. It is often a day of fasting. The receiving of ashes has a long tradition in the Church. In the past, Christians who had committed grave sins performed their penance in public, so on Ash Wednesday the Bishops would bless them by sprinkling ashes over them.
What's with the Ashes? - What most people notice on Ash Wednesday is that an awful lot of Christians are running around with ashes smudged on their foreheads. The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration from the year prior. They are christened with Holy Water and are scented by incense. They are a symbol of penance and contrition, which is why believers are told "Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return" when he/she receives the ashes. While throughout the day the ashes may turn into more of a smudge, they are actually applied to the forehead as the sign of the cross.
Palm Sunday: Palm Sunday commemorates the beginning of Holy Week. It is named "Palm Sunday," because it represents the day that palms and clothing were spread in Jesus' path as he entered Jerusalem before the crucifixion (Matthew 21:7-9). Many churches commemorate the day by recreating the processional. Members are provided with palm branches used to wave or place on a path during the re-enactment.
Good Friday: Good Friday occurs the Friday before Easter Sunday, and it is the day in which Jesus Christ was crucified. Using the term "Good" is an oddity of the English language, as many other countries have termed it "Mourning" Friday, "Long" Friday, "Big" Friday, or "Holy" Friday. The day was originally commemorated by fasting and preparation for the Easter celebration, and no liturgy occurred on Good Friday. By the 4th century the day was commemorated by a procession from Gethsemane to the sanctuary of the cross. Today Catholic tradition offers readings about the passion, a ceremony of the veneration of the cross, and communion. Protestants often preach of the seven last words. Some churches also have prayer at the Stations of the Cross.
What is Easter? - Easter is the day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Christians choose to celebrate this resurrection, because they believe that Jesus was crucified, died, and was raised from the dead in order to pay the penalty for sin. His death assured that believers would have eternal life.
The Celebrations of Easter- There are a number of Christian celebrations and services leading up to Easter Sunday. Here is a description of some of the major holy days:
Lent: The purpose of Lent is to search the soul and repent. It began in the 4th century as a time to prepare for Easter. Lent is 40-days long and is characterized by penance via prayer and fasting. In the Western church Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 6 1/2 weeks, because Sundays are excluded. However, in the Eastern church Lent lasts 7 weeks, because Saturday is also excluded. However, the modern church puts a greater emphasis on charity prayer while most fast meat on Fridays. Some denominations do not observe Lent.
Ash Wednesday: In the Western church, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It occurs 6 1/2 weeks prior to Easter, and its name is derived from the placing of ashes on believer's foreheads. The ash is a symbol of death and sorrow for sin. In the Eastern church, though, Lent begins on a Monday rather than a Wednesday due to the fact that Saturdays are also excluded from the calculation.
Holy Week: Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It began in Jerusalem when believers would visit in order to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. The week includes Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
The Rev John
St. Peters Church Parish