Lent is the recognized tradition of commemorating 40 days of repentance, fasting and almsgiving. It is 40 days (less the Sundays). This tradition originated in the Middle Ages by the Catholic church. Back then the tradition continued through Easter vigil, usually celebrated the Saturday evening before Easter morning and then finally ending on the day we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning. While there is no mention of this time of year in scripture, there are several passages in scripture which do mention the significance of 40 days and several others which mention the burning of items or sacrifices to create ashes for purification.
The phrase said on Ash Wednesday, “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” comes from the book of Genesis. It is a reminder of “whose” we are in Christ and a reminder of our broken humanity and our constant need of God’s grace and mercy. We are reminded that with God, grace abounds and there is enough for all.
As we approach Holy week this lent, I will once again do a little introduction of that week before we dive into the lessons for that day.
You should also know that during Lent this year, we have added something special to each worship space. Many of you are probably familiar with the wooden cross with chicken wire wrapped around it that we pull out on Easter morning to allow people to put flowers in/on it. This year, we will have a basket at the back of each space which will contain strips of cloth and you are invited to come forward and tie your piece of ribbon to the cross, as a means of offering to God your prayer petitions this year. The crosses will stay up each week of Lent- so you can add on each Wednesday and each Sunday. We hope this is a way for you to give to God that which you have been unable to let go of.
Throughout these next 6 weeks, I will do my best to present to you thought provoking insight into one book of scripture. The book of Ephesians. So how about a few facts and information about the book of Ephesians?
Ephesians was written sometime between 60-61 AD by the apostle Paul. He also wrote letters to Colossians and Philemon at the same time- which is why these books are so closely related. Paul went on a total of 3 missionary trips. When he was writing this one, he was at the end of his second journey and at the beginning of his 3rd in which he wrote these letters to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus is more commonly know as Paul’s Prison Epistles, because he wrote most of these letters from a prison cell (and others included Phillippians, Colossians and Philemon).
The major themes of these letters by Paul dealt with topics about the very core of what it means to be a Christian- both in faith and practice- regardless of any particular problem in the community. Paul’s purpose in the writing he says, “was to persuade people to walk in faith in accordance with its heavenly calling”. It is a small book but a powerful one. So I hope that helps you understand a bit of a background for Ephesians, Paul and this season.