Ash Wednesday is next week, and we are full-on into Lent. Didn’t we just get the Christmas Tree and the Nativity Set packed away? It’s all coming early this year—Ash Wednesday is in one week, February 14. Easter is April 1. No foolin!
It’s early this year, but not the earliest. The earliest Easter can come is March 23 (the last time was 2008, and the next time which we won’t live to see is 2160). And now I see that cartoon thought bubble over your head: “How is that, exactly?”
So glad you asked!
Tradition and scripture place Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection during the week of Jewish Passover which happened on the first full moon following the vernal equinox—the first day of Spring, basically! So, early Christians either celebrated Easter ON the day of Passover, or on the very next Sunday.
Enter the Council of Nicaea, 325ce. Since we are all Catholic back then, the bishops vote that Easter will fall usually the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the March equinox, but Easter is delayed by 1 week if the full moon is on Sunday. How about that?
Now, enter the Great Schism of 1054 and the Western church’s shift from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar today, but the vast majority of Eastern Orthodox traditions still ecclesiastically use the Julian calendar meaning that they celebrate Easter 2 weeks later than we do.
I’m sure! We back date the whole of Lent based on the date of Easter. So, 46 days prior to Easter (April 1) is Ash Wednesday (February 14). Palm Sunday is a week before (March 25), Maundy Thursday (March 29), and Good Friday (March 30).
And there you have it!
Glad we cleared that up, right?
So, Lent begins next week.
Get your ashes here on Wednesday, February 14, at 7pm in Webb Chapel. I had to miss it last year because I was in the Holy Land—not a bad place to be for Ash Wednesday, I might add. But I’m looking forward to the whole season with you this time.
Some of us are picking up a new devotional during Lent and I blogged about it last week. To save you the time, just scroll down—I tacked it on to the end of this one.
Have a great week!
Grace & Peace,
40 Days, 40 Words, 40 Prayers
Lent is coming.
To commemorate the time leading up to the Passion of Jesus Christ, aka “Holy Week,” we observe Lent in the spirit of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the desert. The story’s in all the canonical Gospels, across the board in Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Over time, Lenten traditions start building up to our current understanding of the meaning of the season. Fasting, prayer, connection and atonement (“at-one-ment”) with God. We hear our Catholic friends “give something up” for Lent, and we do it too! Fasting.
Fasting can come in several forms. You can give up chocolate, soda, cheese—any number of things that you think are bad for you. Things that separate you from God. I know several people who don’t drink during Lent. I know people who quit smoking for Lent and never went back (I quit so long ago—quit so many times before it stuck. So hard to do!) For others, it’s even hard to eat fish on Friday instead of red meat, or whatever.
Like, some people give up diet soda and instead give the money to something like Interfaith Food Pantry. Good idea! Think about giving up social media! (No kidding.) Some people skip lunch one day a week. Whatever works for you.
Some people start something new. Pick up a new discipline like morning prayer, reading a few lines of the Bible every morning or evening, reading a spiritual book, journaling etc. You get the idea. Start something new.
To that end, here’s something you might try:
Buy the book, 40 Days, 40 Prayers, 40 Words: Lenten Reflections for Everyday Life by Bruce Reyes-Chow. Some of us are reading this book, a little daily devotional. It’s short and it’s easy. This little book is an amazing quick and easy daily touchstone to check in with the Spirit. If you get the electronic version of it, you can do it each day no matter where you are! At home, on the train, at work, on your device. We’ll post a little graphic every day on the church’s social media to help remind you. Easy!
A good excuse to check in with God between Sundays, right?
Whatever you choose—to give something up, to start something—you’re open to the Spirit’s pushing you toward the resurrection. A resurrection of faith journey in your heart, soul, and mind. Discipleship. And the as such, you live into the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How awesome is that?
Grace and peace,