A reflection by Vicar Mark Fischer
In the month of March last year, the church was well into the season of Lent and for the first time in 62 years, Easter fell on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. This year, 2019, Easter is late; almost to the latest date possible, April 21st. For 2019, we are a whole week into March before Ash Wednesday.
Why Lent? Why do we have to endure Lent to get to Easter. Doesn’t Lent often seem like a burden. One pastor said Lent is her favorite season of the church year; you can’t have Easter without Lent and the cross. Lent is a time set aside to prepare oneself for the two most important days of the Christian Church year--Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Just as Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the birth of Christ, Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and to understand our Lord a little deeper so when Good Friday and Easter occur, it is not just another day to receive the overflowing gift of God’s grace.
Why forty days? The significance of the 40-day period of Lent is based on two occurrences of spiritual testing, the 40 years of wandering by the Israelites after the Exodus and the 40 days that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness (The temptations occurred after the 40 days of fasting).
Unlike the anticipatory joy of Advent leading up to the birth of Jesus, Lent is an intense, penitential time where we examine ourselves and our sinful nature and seek to return to the God whom we have hurt time and again.
However, the purpose of Lent does not end with sadness and despair; Lent is an opportunity to contemplate what Jesus really did for us on the cross. Rather, Lent points us to the hope of the resurrection and the day when every tear will be dried (Revelation 21:3).
This year, I invite all of you to join me in participating in the mid-week Lenten worship services sponsored by the Newmanstown-Richland Ministerium and to consider the prophets messages of a call to repentance in our upcoming Lenten sermon series.