Updated from the Archives....
As Elizabeth and I plan to make pancakes (gluten-free and grain-free varieties this year) for dinner this Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Tuesday as it's known in our household), I'm also preparing myself spiritually for the beginning of Lent.
Tomorrow morning I'll attend the Ash Wednesday Imposition of Ashes with the kind folks of Blessed Trinity Anglican as we meet together in Father Acker's home in Alpine. (Message me if you'd like to come, and I'll give you the directions. It's mind-blowing and soul-blowing ancient worship!)
I have my Lenten fast decided and my Lenten additions ready. I don't usually tell either one publicly--only my family knows so that they can help keep me accountable.
A few years ago, I had continued all year with the previous Lent's addition of The One Year Book of Hymns to my Compline prayer time before bed each night, last night's hymn struck me, and I want to share it here as well as copy it into my Common Place Book (quotation journal) as it expresses many of the reasons why Lent is my favorite time of year:
by Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898)
Lord, who through these forty days
For us did fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins,
And close by Thee to stay.
As Thou with Satan didst contend
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.
As Thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.
And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy Passiontide,
Yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.
Abide with us, that so this life
Of suffering overpast,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!
The Scripture verses accompanying this hymn in this devotional is Mark 1:11-12 from The Living Bible:
"Immediately the Holy Spirit urged Jesus into the desert. There, for forty days, alone except for desert animals, he was subjected to Satan's temptations to sin. And afterwards the angels came and cared for him."
So Lent consists of the forty days before the Resurrection, not including Sundays (which are always a celebration of the Resurrection) and thus Lent parallels the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before starting his earthly ministry.
Lent prepares our hearts for the joy of Easter--the celebration of the Resurrection of our Living and Loving Lord. How can we truly celebrate without suffering just a little first? Through fasting and prayer, we draw closer to the heart of the One who loved us first.
Can we fast and pray at any time? Sure. But do we? Not enough--or at least, I know that I don't fast and pray enough. Lent reminds me to do so, to allow the Holy Spirit into the dark corners of my soul and do a spiritual "spring cleaning," showing me my sin so that I may confess it and be cleansed.
To read more about Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent you may read my post On Lent using this hyperlink or by going to the "On Lent" page beneath my blog header.
I wish you all a Holy and Blessed Lent as we all draw closer to our Lord and King!