As we begin a new year, we look back on the difficulties of this past year. Without a doubt 2020 has been one of the most difficult years for our current generation.
Greetings to You in Our Lord’s Name!
From Pastor Christopher Kurien
On February 17, Ash Wednesday, the church entered into another Lenten season. In 325 AD, the Council of Nicea established Lent as a holy season to be observed by the whole Church. The season always begins with Ash Wednesday and concludes the Saturday before Easter. In the UM Church, like other denominations, the 40 days of the season do not include the six Sundays of Lent. Sundays are considered “Mini-Easters” as we celebrate the joy of the Resurrection of Christ.
It is also significant that, in the Bible, 40 is an important number, associated with anticipation and preparation:
- Moses waited on the Mt. Sinai for 40 days to receive the Law,
- Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land,
- Elijah walked 40 days to meet with God at Mount Horeb,
- And, most importantly, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before His temptation.
During Lent, we’re encouraged to observe the penitential practices of prayer, confession, self-denial, fasting, and almsgiving for 40 days. The Latin name for the season, quadragesima, is also significant, as it means 40 days of penance. The word Lent comes from the word Lencten, which simply means spring season. In a real sense, Lent can be a 40-day springtime for the soul. A time of planting, nurturing, and experiencing God’s love and care.
Lent is also seen as a time of year to de-clutter. We try to put down or put away some of the things that we think we don’t really need or are not really important, so that we have space and time for listening to God and learning more about Him. So, when we give up certain things for Lent, it makes room for God! We give up something to take up something. May God help us to practice the five penitential practices during this Lent.
This year Easter is on April 4. As we know, Resurrection Day is one of the most important days in the life of the church, which is the foundation to our Christian existence. Without the death and resurrection of Christ, we would have no church, there would be no reason for ministry, and we would have no message to preach. Resurrection is the foundation of the hope that we cherish and of the faith that we passionately proclaim when we get up on the Easter morning and say, He is risen! He is risen indeed! Celebrating the resurrection of Christ is the most joyful experience for us Christian believers.
Friends, it’s been an extremely challenging year for all, and it doesn’t seem to be over yet. I hope everyone can get the COVID-19 vaccination soon, and we can return to our normal lives. Meanwhile let us pray for those impacted adversely.
May our Lenten disciplines and the season of Easter be meaningful and purposeful to all of us.
With much love,