We should follow in His footsteps
Wednesday ushered in the 2020 Lent season.
If you were in the City of Hamilton, you may have seen the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, and Canon Norman Lynas roaming the streets placing the mark of the cross on foreheads and praying with those who passed by.
This was part of an annual “Ashes to Go” tradition. Yearly, Christians around the western world commemorate the first day of Lent with Ash Wednesday services.
A part of these services includes an ancient Jewish tradition of wearing ashes. Historically, the wearing of ashes in Jewish culture represented sorrow and mourning.
Today, receiving the ashes on Ash Wednesday is a sign of penitence and mortality.
It is a sacred and symbolic outward showing of faith. Participants would confess their sins and profess their devotion to God during this time.
Said Bishop Dill: “Receiving the mark of the cross means that you are seeking repentance of sin, are willing to change for the better and profess the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
“While this does not require public displays, Ash Wednesday and the Lent period are times when we come together collectively as Christians to mirror the journey of Christ to the cross.
“Sadly, some of us can get into doing these kinds of things just for show on one day of the year. But unless it comes from the heart it is a wasted experience. In fact, it would be just another religious act.
“Jesus’s whole purpose in coming was to die for our sins, but also to provide a model for how we should live.
“During this period, as He is approaching Jerusalem for his own death, Jesus is teaching His disciples things like greatness comes from service and denying yourself to serve others.
“His time on earth was to both die for our sins and show us how to live.
“This Lenten period is an opportunity for us to focus on what really matters. If we call ourselves His followers, we should be following in His footsteps.
“This journey is about looking inward, denying oneself and becoming totally available to be used by God for His purposes. The ashes are just an outward show of what should already by going on inside.”
The period of Lent lasts for forty days and is customarily used as a time of intentional fasting and praying. Forty days is a significant number in Christian scriptures.
The great flood lasted for forty days, the Hebrews spent forty years in the wilderness, Moses fasted for forty days before receiving the Ten Commandments and Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness preparing for his earthly ministry.
As such, Lent is also observed for forty days (not including Sundays) and customarily requires participants to replicate Jesus’s sacrifice and withdrawal by giving up something of great magnitude.
Traditionally, people would give up food or beverage items such as alcohol, caffeine or sugar for Lent.
But in more recent years the sacrifice has taken other forms, with Christians choosing to give up modern luxuries such as television and social media instead.
“In and of itself, it is a good practice of self-discipline. We are controlled by so many things. So, to take power of those things, as a concept, is good,” said Bishop Dill. “When we put it in the context of what Jesus gave up for us, it’s all just tokens. But it is a sign of our willingness not to be controlled by external things.
“The point of giving up something for Lent is not just to give it up, but to do something else instead.
“So, if you are fasting, you are using that time to pray or perform some act of service. If you are giving up stuff, you can use the money that you would have spent to do good for someone else.
“For me, Lent is a time of spiritual renewal and deepening my understanding of who Jesus is and what his sacrifice meant for the world.
“This experience is not designed to make me feel good about myself or to trim my waistline, it’s more about using our time in a different way, to be a blessing to someone else.”
Lent begins each year on the seventh Wednesday before Easter and ends on Easter Sunday. It is a season of prayer, penance and fasting in preparation for the great celebration of Easter — the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week and includes Good Friday.
Churches across the island will be celebrating this season in different ways.
The Anglican Church of Bermuda will host study groups and special services across the various parishes of the island.
All of this will culminate in an Easter vigil on April 11 at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity.
“During Holy Week, there are a bunch of different services. On Easter eve, it’s a celebration. It’s a time for baptisms and confirmations.
“The whole church comes together to remember the resurrection of Jesus. Having come through the darkness, we are now living in the light.
“We tell the story of humanity from the creation of the world to the fall of man and finally the redemption of the world through Jesus Christ.”
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