Dear Friends, as I write this, I’m filled with mixed emotions. It’s not only leaving our Lincoln Park family but also retiring after many years of ministry that has me deep in thought.
Our 40-Day Journey Begins
From The Pastor
On March 2, we begin another Lenten journey with Ash Wednesday. Let me share a bit of history about the observance of Lent leading up to the celebration of Easter. Historically, the length of preparation for Easter increased from one week, to three and then six weeks, excluding Sundays. Sundays were held by the church as mini-Easters.
In Jerusalem, as early as the fourth century, Christians fasted for 40 days in preparation for Easter. The 40 days consisted of five days a week for eight weeks. They symbolized the 40 days that Moses stayed on Mount Sinai, the 40 days that Elijah journeyed to Mount Horeb, and the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness.
In the seventh century, the church arrived at a 40-day preparation period for Easter. There was fasting for six weeks, six days a week, for a total of 36 days. Then it was decided to include the four days preceding the first Sunday of preparation. The first day of Lent then came to be known as Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday we practice the imposition of ashes to remember our mortal nature as humans and celebrate communion to experience God’s presence.
The word ‘Lent’ comes from the word Lengthen or Lencten, referring to the lengthening of days during spring. Interestingly, Lent and Spring bear similar meaning. Like spring, Lent gives way to new life. For the early Christians there was much joy when they gathered for the Easter celebration. They greeted one another on Easter Sunday (as well as on every other time they gathered), saying Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed.
We also know from history that many early disciples were persecuted for their faith. Sadly, today there are still many places in the world where Christians are persecuted for practicing their faith in the risen Christ. In our country it is rare that one suffers for having faith in Christ.
This Easter may we find time to enjoy the new life around us while remembering the joy of that first Easter Day. Even if you’re not able to come to church, plan to join us online or read through or sing the Easter hymns.
May I also encourage those who are able to join in some of our activities during this season — like the Bible reading group, Wednesday night meetings, or community walking program. Then, we may grow in the Lord and stay healthy! And, please remember to pray for persecuted Christians as we commit ourselves anew to sharing our faith with those yearning to hear the good news of Christ’s resurrection. Let us help everyone experience the blessing of Christian community.
May you all have a blessed Lententide, a glorious Easter, and a beautiful spring!
Pastor Christopher Kurien
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