The church’s season of Lent begins February 14.
The word “Lent” comes from the Latin word for Spring. Just as people have always worked hard in Spring to prepare the ground for crops, during Lent, we work the soil of our lives to prepare ourselves to receive anew the gift of God’s death-defying love at Easter. Since ancient times, the church has observed the season of Lent for 40 days plus 6 Sundays, concluding with our observance of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. At White Bluff Presbyterian Church, we do some special things in worship this season, and we hope you will find ways to observe Lent in your daily life.
Purple Cloth: You will notice that our sanctuary is decorated in purple cloth during the season of Lent. Because it is a dark color, purple reminds us of times of mourning. But purple is not quite black; it is also a rich color, with many hues, reminding us of the richness of a well-examined life. Purple casts a somber, reflective tone on our worship because this is a time of self-examination, confession, and commitment to change those habits which prevent us from experiencing the full abundance of life which God wants for us.
Kyrie Eleison: As a part of our self-examination and repentance, we put extra emphasis on confessing where we fall short of God’s expectations. During Lent, we repeat the words, “Lord, have mercy” in our time of confession. These words are a translation of a simple plea that comes to us from the ancient church; in Greek, they are kyrie eleison. They help us remember that, because we fail to live the way God would have us live, we depend on God to show us undeserved and unending mercy. In your daily life, you may find it helpful to pray these same words as you recognize your shortcomings and ask God to love you anyway.
Silence: To renew our focus as followers of Christ during Lent, we create space to slow down, remove distractions, and concentrate on God’s Word. Only when we quiet both our voices and our minds can we listen for God to speak to us. During worship, we spend some time in silence after hearing God’s word in order to let God speak to us individually. In your daily life, consider carving out some time and space in the weeks before Easter to read and study the Bible, to pray for a deepening of your relationship with God, or just to sit in silence and listen for God speaking to you.
Almsgiving: In many traditions, Lent has been a time for giving up something that an individual believer really likes, such as chocolate or meat. This practice comes from the ancient church, when some Christians would fast during Lent by denying themselves food or other essentials for a period of time. This time of fasting reminded believers of their dependence on God for all things, and the money they saved by fasting would be given to the poor. During Lent this year, we will have a Lent Food Drive to support the Thomas Park Food Pantry, our partner in providing food for people who are hungry. We will also talk about the One Great Hour of Sharing offering we will receive on Easter Sunday, which benefits programs to alleviate hunger, recover from natural disasters, and help people develop the future of their own communities. Lent is a good time to consider the richness of your life and your ability to gratefully give to help the poor.