Our Spiritual life will be enhanced during the month of March because we will begin celebrating "Lent." Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." Lent is a very special time in the life of our denomination, The United Methodist Church. Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011) and ends on Holy Saturday (April 23, 2011.) The Lenten season is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent's history reveals its beginning as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians. Usually, the Lenten season is identified by persons as a time to make a sacrifice by "doing without" a favorite. We often hear persons make the statement, "I cannot eat sweets," or "I cannot watch television." because I gave them up for Lent. I ask us, "What are we willing to sacrifice these next forty (40) days?"
We will prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the 2011 Lent with our Ash Wednesday worship. Ash Wednesday is a time to emphasize a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith. This worship experience foci will be on the dual themes of sin and death in the light of God's redeeming love in Jesus Christ.
The color purple is the most traditional color throughout Lent. However, we will use the color gray with its suggestion of ashes on Ash Wednesday. Historically, in Christian and Jewish worship, ashes represent a sign of mortality and repentance. The Imposition of Ashes is the nonverbal and experiential way of participating in the call to repentance and reconciliation. This practice is the "historic focus of Ash Wednesday observance and gave the day its name" as identified in The United Methodist Book of Worship.
As your Pastor, I look forward to our Lenten journey together with GREAT EXPECTANCY!