The Light of Lent

by The Rev. Andrew W. Foster

The Rev. Andrew W. FosterPeople often think about the season of Lent as a rather grim, dark time.  After all, it usually falls in the dull, cold, gray days of late winter and is noted as a time of abstinence and fasting – of “giving something up.”  But actually the name Lent comes from the same root word as “length” and it refers to the fact that at this season of the year, periods of sunlight are gradually getting a few minutes longer every day.  (This year, we began Daylight Saving Time on March 13th, the First Sunday of Lent, which will also lengthen our days.)  Lent is a season of increasing light.  Maybe we should be thinking about “lightening up” for Lent.

One way to do just that is to try to simplify things in daily life.  At Ascension, we will put on a different look and atmosphere in our worship customs.  Some of the beautiful gold and bronze appointments in the sanctuary will be put out of sight for a while.  At the side altar a plain wooden cross is hung.  Candles of unbleached beeswax will be burning at the high altar and simple pillar candles on the free-standing altar.  Instead of the freshness and vibrancy of flowers, we will use arrangements of dried grasses in pottery or glass containers.  Even our music will take on a quieter, more reflective tone, both in the wonderful hymnody of the season and in the musical offerings of choir and organ.  You will notice more simple chants and unaccompanied anthems in Lent.  Our raw silk Lenten paraments and vestments in muted tones with touches of regal purple and red will carry out the theme.

At the beginning of this season, we are bidden, in the words from The Book of Common Prayer, “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”   Here at Ascension opportunities abound to deepen your prayer life through attending Barbara Crafton’s Quiet Evening on Wednesday, March 23rd or by joining us at the 6:00pm weekday services; to expand your horizons through joining in the Inquirer’s Class which will start on Tuesday, April 5th;  to gather with fellow parishioners at a House Eucharist or by reading their spiritual meditations in the Lenten Devotional; or to serve others through our outreach activities in the Food Pantry, the Tutoring program, or the Homeless Shelter.

Simplify your life and lighten up!