The forty days before Easter season of Lent is rapidly approaching. Many who participate in Lent act to reflect the life of Christ in their own worship life.
The forty days of Lent represent Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, fasting, suffering and being tempted by the Devil, only to overcome all and begin His blessed three-year ministry. Lent then has always been a penitential time and in the past has incorporated fasting as Christ fasted, but this is not usually done these days. Often, though, many will give up something for Lent. Usually something they particularly like to do. This often has the effect of strengthening our resolve in our faith and gives us a joyous boost when Easter comes and we break our fast or whatever we have been denying ourselves.
The church, reflecting the life of Christ, is no better found then at the very end of Lent. It is here that we enter into Holy Week with “Palm Sunday” waving palm fronds as we process into church singing alleluias to the coming King. This “entrance” reflects the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life before His suffering death and glorious resurrection from the dead.
Our next service in Holy Week is Maundy Thursday. Maundy is Latin for mandate, which is the mandate of Jesus’ new covenant in His body and blood in His last Passover, which we call the Eucharist, which means to give thanks. It is here that we too partake of His body and blood. But this service does not end in the normal way. The altar is stripped of everything, while the congregation whispers the Lord’s Prayer or a Psalm and then leaves the church in silence. We began the same service the next evening on Good Friday. It is here that we reflect on why Jesus had to suffer on the cross, and that is because of our sin. The sin of all the world. The service is at night and ends in darkness with a loud noise! This is called the “strepitus” which is Latin for “great noise” reflecting the earthquake on Jesus’ death.
The next service ends Lent, for it is now Easter morning. The austere days of penitence are no more and there is only great Joy. For Jesus has died, taken our sin and has thrown it as far as the east is from the west and given to us His own blessed righteousness. He then rose again on the third day giving us everlasting life and we can only respond with loud alleluias saying “He has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia!”
St. Peter the Fisherman Lutheran Church