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March 1, 2017 began the season of “Lent.” Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lencten” which means “spring.” This season is a 40-day period — not counting Sundays — which began on (Mar. 1) and ends on Holy Saturday (Apr. 15).

Lent is a period of repentance and renewal preceding Easter. This time allows us as Christians to recall and relive the Resurrection story and truly understand its meaning. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, our lives can be renewed and we have the power to renounce sin and death.The Lenten season began with Ash Wednesday. It was fascinating to see on Facebook the many churches offering ways to receive ashes. Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter:

a) we confront our own mortality and b) we confess our sin before God within the community of faith. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. 

The Imposition of Ashes is a powerful, nonverbal and experiential way of participating in the call to repentance and reconciliation. According to Nelson Bible Dictionary, repentance is defined as turning away from our sin, disobedience or rebellion and turning back to God and reconciliation is defined as a change in social relationship in which two parties previously at odds with each other exchange friendship and peace.

When I was a pastor in the church, parishioners would always ask, “How should I observe this Lenten period?”

I would encourage all believers:

Self-examination – Set aside this season to truly examine and evaluate your life as a Christian. What is keeping you from having a more committed relationship with our Lord and Savior?

Repentance – Repent from the sin(s) that separates you from God.

Reconciliation – Examine your relationships. Who are you in conflict with that has led to a break or discord in the relationship?

Scripture Reading – Join us in the Bishop’s Bible Challenge at http:// vaumc.org/pages/bishop-lewis/biblechallenge. It is never too late!

Prayer – Pray an hour a day. The discipline of prayer brings us into the deepest and highest work of the human spirit.

Fasting – allows us to “… loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6, NIV). Lenten fasting has a special meaning. It recalls the time Jesus Christ suffered and died to redeem humanity.

During this season of Lent, take the time to reflect on your personal life, reflect on what is hindering your complete devotion to our Lord and Savior and engage in a posture of repentance and reconciliation.