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February 1, 2016, 3:25 PM

Love and Ashes

Lent begins, this year, with Ash Wednesday on February 10.  The season of Lent is the 40 day preparation for Easter.  The name “Lent” comes from an Old English word for spring, when the days “lengthen.” Lent is about the return of light and life to the earth.  It culminates with the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection to new life on Easter.  

The Christian focus for Lent has traditionally been repentance.  The word means to turn in a new direction.  As the days lengthen, and the sap begins to run again in the maples, we examine our own lives to see what we need to let go of and what new thing might be bubbling up within us.  In Lent, we open our minds and hearts to the new life that God is always offering us.  

Some people observe Lent by giving up something; but I always encourage everyone, instead, to turn in a new direction and do something new that will enrich your spiritual journey and help others.  The first Sunday of Lent falls, this year, on Valentine’s Day.  It inspired me to focus throughout Lent on Love.  The central teaching of Christ is that fulfilling the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor as our self, fulfills all the other commandments in the Bible.  So our scripture readings, sermons, and Sunday school lessons, through Lent, will focus on different aspects of love and the ways that Jesus calls us, as his disciples, to express God’s love. 

On Wednesday, February 10, I will be offering ashes and an open morning meditation time this year, from 8:00am until 10:00am in the church.  There will be meditative music playing for the two hours.  People can come briefly just to receive ashes, or stay longer for a time of quiet reflection.  There will be candles to light for prayer intentions, and handouts with prayers and readings to prompt your Lenten reflections.   Everyone is welcome.

I encourage you to find new ways to express love in daily life as your Lenten observance this year.  A web article on the benefits of hugging is posted on the church website – www.firstchurchwashingtonct.org – for inspiration.  Tell us how you are planning to observe Lent this year by posting a comment.

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