One week from today is Ash Wednesday, and with it begins the season of Lent. This (approximately) forty-day period is a gift to us from the ancient Church in which we can prepare ourselves to remember and even participate in the sufferings and death of Christ for our sins, and then glory in the Easter celebration of resurrection. The term “Lent” has Old English roots in the word “lencten”, which refers to the lengthening days of Spring, but the Lenten tradition goes back much further than that. The first hints of this time of fasting and preparation are found in the 2nd century AD as believers would observe a strict 40 hour fast between Good Friday and Easter morning. By the 4th century, around the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325, this period was “lengthened to 40 days and became a time of intense preparation before Baptism, which would take place in the Easter Vigil on the night before Easter. The Latin name for this “fast” was Quadragesima, derived from the name of the Sunday which was the fortieth day before Easter. This 40 day period comes from Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and temptation in the desert after His baptism which initiated His public ministry and the accomplishment of our salvation. Back before Christmas we prepared for the Light to come into the world in the incarnation of Christ. Now, in Lent, we look for that Light to complete the mission of destroying and disarming the powers of darkness. In the darkness of Good Friday afternoon our Savior wins the eternal battle against sin, death and the devil as He cries “It is finished”, then bows His head and dies. All that is needed for the salvation of the world was accomplished at that cross, and the resurrection is proof of our being made right with God and His children forever, a gift received by faith. As the light returns this late winter and spring, we can be reminded of the Light that pierced the darkness for us; the Light that is the life of all mankind, a light that shines on us and then outward from us.
Pastor Brian Albrecht has served St. John's since June of 2009