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A Word About Lent
When the season of Lent officially begins and ends is often discussed. So it seems good to say something about the matter here.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The Season of Lent is 40 days long. Those days do NOT include the Sundays that immediately follow Ash Wednesday. Hence those Sundays are called "The Sundays IN Lent" rather than the the Sundays of Lent.
Lent continues straight through to the end of what is called Holy Saturday. Depending on how you count time this would be either at sundown on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, or at midnight.
In ancient times candidates for baptism/confirmation were received into the membership of the Church sometime between Saturday evening and the main Celebration of the Resurrection on Sunday morning. In fact the origins of Lent as a special season of the church comes, in part, from this practice. Lent evolved as a time of prayer and study and preparation for those being initiated into the church on Easter Sunday. The candidates not only prepared themselves to become a part of the Body of Christ - but the Body of Christ also prepared itself to receive the candidates. Repentance, self giving, and turning and walking with Jesus in the way of the cross are major themes of the Lenten Season.
The color of Lent and of the Sundays in Lent is Purple. There is, however, a major exception to this - namely the color of last week of Lent, which is known as "Holy Week", is Red (with the exception of Maundy Thursday where, as with Easter, the color is white).
Confused already? Well, it is a confusing subject because of how the traditions around Lent arose. For example, at one time Palm Sunday, the sixth Sunday in Lent, was just that - a celebration of the triumphal entrance of Jesus in Jerusualem. Palm Sunday began Holy Week. However in fairly recent times the Passion story became a part of the Palm Sunday celebration so that those who might not be present at Good Friday Worship Services might hear the entire story. The reasoning for this is that without embracing and understanding the death of Jesus the resurrection has no meaning.
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As one of many Protestants who are recovering the rich traditions of the church I accept the Church calendar as it has come to me through my denomination and the suggestions of the various parts of the Church that helped devise the Revised Common Lectionary. As part of a free church tradition I am also able to highlight certain matters for my congregation by how I vest and how the church is prepared for each season. This is, for me, particularly true during Lent. Normally I wear a simple white cassock-alb and an appropriately colored stole. However on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday I wear my (black) full length Geneva Gown amd forgo wearing a stole. On Good Friday I also drape the cross and the communion table in black. Otherwise all else is as described above.
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