Suggested Scripture(s): — Isaiah 53 & 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2

Now that the annual church year season of Lent is now upon us – as of Ash Wednesday, March 6 –please find below both some interesting information about Lent as well as a special prayer.

The information was obtained from a church newsletter of a congregation Katie and I used to co-pastor some 25 years ago in Denison, Texas:

Did you know…

…that Lent originally lasted forty hours? It was spent in fasting to commemorate the suffering of Christ and the time He spent in the tomb.

…that, in the early church, Lent was a time to prepare for the Sacrament of Baptism, scheduled for Easter Eve?

…that by the third century, the Lenten observance was extended to six days and eventually expanded to forty days (excluding Sundays) in 800 A.D., during the reign of Charlemagne?

…that the earliest Lent can begin is February 5? That last occurred in 1818.

…that the latest Lent can begin is March 10? That won’t happen again until 2038.

…that the day before Ash Wednesday (Shrove Tuesday) is celebrated in many parts of the world with feasting? The French call it Mardi Gras; the Germans refer to it as Fasching. The feasting comes from the custom of using up household fats prior to the 40 days of Lenten fasting when no fat is used.

…that the symbol of the cross, imposed on worshipers’ foreheads on Ash Wednesday, is an outward expression of Christians’ internal desire to dwell in the shadow of the cross where mercy abounds and death is vanquished?

…that traditionally, Lent is a season of reflection, focused on the deep and abiding significance of Christ’s sacrificial love? The prophet Isaiah reminds us that our sins are forgiven as a result of the selfless dedication which led the Suffering Servant to His death. Jesus willingly endured the agony of the crucifixion to atone for our unrighteousness. It is fitting, therefore, to enter Lent with an awareness of our sinfulness and a new sense of appreciation for the sacrifice required to secure our redemption. Let us pray:

Prayer:

Lord, during this Lenten season, I sense a need to tarry in your presence,

yet I am not certain how to nurture my relationship with you.

I heard someone say, “Read your Bible,” but too often the words

are like bullets that ricochet off my brain.

I heard someone say, “Pray,” but many of my prayers, hurled heavenward,

fall back to earth like heavy stones.

I heard someone say, “Meditate,” but my wandering mind is lost

in the chaos of random thoughts.

Lord, speak to me through your Word; please let it penetrate

my mind and heart.

Lord, speak to me through prayer,

and turn these stones into the living bread of Christ.

Lord, speak to me through meditation, that I may discover,

in the midst of chaos, Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen.