Tag Archives: Maundy Thursday

Ash Wednesday and Lent

Lent is about mortality and transformation. We begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with the sign of the cross smeared on our foreheads with ashes as the words are spoken over us, “Dust thou art, and to dust thou wilt return.” We begin this season of Lent not only reminded of our death, but also marked for death.

ash_wednesday picThe Lenten journey, with its climax in Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter, is about participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Put somewhat abstractly, this means dying to an old identity—the identity conferred by culture, by tradition, by parents, perhaps—and being born into a new identity—an identity centered in the Spirit of God. It means dying to an old way of being, and being born into a new way of being, a way of being centered once again in God.

Put slightly more concretely, this path of death and resurrection, of radical centering in God, may mean for some of us that we need to die to specific things in our lives—perhaps to a behavior or a pattern of behavior that has become destructive or dysfunctional; perhaps to a relationship that has ended or gone bad; perhaps to an unresolved grief that needs to be let go of; perhaps to a career or job that has either been taken from us or that no longer nourishes us; or perhaps even we need to die to a deadness in our lives.

You can even die to deadness, and this dying is also oftentimes a daily rhythm in our lives—that daily occurrence that happens to some of us as we remind ourselves of the reality of God in our relationship to God; that reminder that can take us out of ourselves, lift us out of our confinement, take away our feeling of being burdened and weighed down.

That’s the first focal point of a life that takes Jesus seriously: that radical centering in the Spirit of God that is at the very center of the Christian life.

—Dr. Marcus Borg

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The Lenten Observance

The 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday, going through Holy Week, and ending on the Saturday before Easter is the season of Lent. The six Sundays occurring during Lent are not counted as the 40 days since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Originating in the 4thLent 2015 century of the Church, the season is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter. Many biblical events are associated with the number 40, but Lent is most commonly connected to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry as he faced the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission.

Christians today use this period of time for meditation, introspection, and repentance. The Church usually marks the season by prayer, fasting, and charitable giving. It is a time for the Church to focus on prayer, penance, and repentance as we acknowledge our need for God’s grace. All of this is a preparation to celebrate Christ’s atonement and resurrection of Easter.

The last week of Lent is Holy Week. During this holiest time of the liturgical year, the Church relives the final week of Christ’s life. On Palm Sunday, believers celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, we revisit the Last Supper, while on Good Friday we recall the passion and crucifixion of the Lord.

Lent is about what Christ gave the world – salvation. The observation of Lent is a way to place ourselves humbly before God as we confess our inadequacies, strip ourselves of pretense, and open our souls before God to receive His grace.

We are part of a continuous line of Christians who have celebrated for 2000 years the One who was born in poverty, lived sinlessly, died on a cross, and rose from the dead. Jesus secured us a place in the Kingdom of God – here and now, and eternally in heaven. He opened wide the doors of kingdom – living in today’s world. He offers peace beyond our dreams, joy beyond our expressions, wisdom beyond our understanding and accomplishments beyond our abilities.

Lent gives us 40 days to prepare for a joyous Easter response to grace.


Filed under Fasting, Lent