Lenten Mid-Week Worship
Wednesday Evenings, 7 pm
ABOUT THE SEASON OF LENT
The word Lent is apparently derived from the Old English lencten, which means "lengthen." It refers to the lengthening of the daylight hours that occurs in the northern hemisphere as spring approaches. The season falls within this time period.
If you count backwards from Easter to Ash Wednesday, you will count more than 40 days. That’s because the Sundays don’t count — They are Sundays in Lent, but not Sundays of Lent. Like every other Sunday of the year, the Sundays in Lent are “little Easters,” days on which the Church remembers the victory of Jesus over Satan, death, and the grave.
The Christian Tradition
In the earliest days of the Church’s life, converts needed to be ready to make enormous sacrifices. They might have to give up their jobs, their families, even their lives, if they became Christians. The training to give up a pagan lifestyle and live a Christian lifestyle was long and involved, therefore. Instruction often lasted as long as three years. The most intense part of that training took place during the last weeks before their Easter Baptism. The catechumens (i.e., students; think of the word catechism) fasted and prayed for forty days — as Jesus did before he faced Satan’s temptations in the wilderness. That forty-day period of prayer and meditation became known as the season of Lent.
If Christians choose to give up something or increase charitable giving during Lent as a way to proclaim the salvation Christ has won for all by His suffering and death, then such activities are God-pleasing sacrifices and are to be encouraged. However, it is essential to remember that nothing we do through self-denial or good works can ever earn God's forgiveness or repay Him for what He accomplished for us. Lent is not about our giving up something to please God. Lent is about what Christ gave up to pay the penalty for the sins of the world -- His holy and innocent life.
At Lutheran Church of the Master
The Sundays in Lent are quite similar to all the other Sundays of the Christian year, although the celebration is muted a little. We give up singing the liturgy’s Hymn of Praise. We also eliminate the alleluias on the Sundays in Lent. The visual symbols used in the sanctuary, the cross, crown and nails, focus upon the suffering of Christ. The color for Lent is purple, symbolizing royalty and penitence. Mid-week services provide additional opportunities to hear the Word of the Cross and Resurrection and receive the Lord's Supper.
To derive the highest benefit from these “holiest days of the year” keep three things in mind:
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events in the Christian faith. Over the span of 20 centuries the Church has reserved its noblest rites and highest ceremony for Lent\Holy Week\Easter.
For four hundred years after the resurrection, Easter was the day on which adult converts were baptized and brought into the Church. Many of the customs that accompany Easter (Lenten services prior to Easter) have their roots in the preparation of these adults for Holy Baptism. For us, it can be a time for reaffirmation of faith.
Think of Easter Sunday, therefore, as the zero on a kitchen timer. Think of Ash Wednesday as the day on which the timer is set. During all the days in between, the timer clicks and clicks and clicks, and our anticipation grows stronger and stronger and stronger for the moment the timer will ring and the Easter feast will be ready, even as we anticipate the final fulfillment of the Eternal
May God bless you with all the gifts that are in Christ Jesus during this Lenten season.