Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is not easy to think about the Easter season when it is so very cold and there is snow on the ground. Yet, ready or not, the Easter season, Lent, is beginning on February 13. February 13 is Ash Wednesday. It is true, calendar wise, Ash Wednesday is early this year. Through the years Ash Wednesday has been earlier, but not by much. February 4th is the earliest Lent can begin. Of course the date of Ash Wednesday has everything to do with the date of Easter. Since Easter is early this year, too, March 31, that makes Ash Wednesday come early.
Lent is a season of 40 week days and six Sundays and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the word lencten, which means “spring”. The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time of confessing sins and seeking forgiveness by all Christians. Lent is a time to get closer to God. Lent is a journey from self-serving to self-giving. People may give up something they enjoy for Lent or fast for certain meals. Others give up a favorite activity, like watching television or internet browsing.
Recently I read a book entitled Give Up Something Bad for Lent by James W. Moore. The author suggests that instead of giving up something for Lent, like desserts, we consider giving up something bad, something that keeps us from being all God has called us to be, such as jealousy, apathy, bitterness, anger, gossip, etc. with the hope we will be able to give it up long term, not just for the season of Lent. Personally I think he is on to something. If one of the hopes of the Lenten season is that we will be able to get closer to God, what better way than to be obedient to God by getting rid of the things that can cause harm to us and to others.
Lent is an invitation to “be with Jesus,” to seek His face and enjoy His presence and to revel in His amazing love. I encourage you to make the Lenten season a time to begin or renew or deepen your relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for our Ash Wednesday Service at 7:30 pm on February 13, at the Oakland United Church of Christ and our Sunday morning worship services at the Oakland UMC at 10 am.
Let us join together to spiritually prepare for Easter. There is nothing more important than drawing closer to the One who loves you so much that He gave His only Son to die for you so that you may have life and have it abundantly!
And All God’s Children Said,