To: Clergy and People
From: The Bishop
12th February, 2021
ASH WEDNESDAY- LENT 2021
The book of Genesis informs us that we were made from the dust of the earth. It was God who has made us into what we are – we are part of God’s Creation made in the image of God, which means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason and to live in harmony with God, ourselves and the rest of Creation. The fact is we have and continue to misuse our freedom and make wrong choices, we rebel against God, we seek to put ourselves in the place of God, we sin.
As children we all have or had our role models, persons whom we looked up to, admired and sought to emulate. To us these persons were impeccable as we journeyed through the naivety and innocence of childhood. You see as children we were far removed from the full life of these persons and further, we were not yet able to understand that life is complex. The point here is that such persons were not necessarily of a better character than those today. The fact that we now have a fuller picture of the lives of those in particular positions in society, and those who held such positions in the past would have been our role models creates a difficulty. But is it really a difficulty or is it a failure to acknowledge their mortality, human frailty and imperfection?
The truth is those who were our role models had their own problems, weaknesses and sin but we were not exposed to them, but now we have become adults we are privy to the problems, weaknesses and sin of those who are called to be role models so to speak. In addition, today such persons are under the microscope and everything is brought to the fore. Do you think that some of the unsavoury things we hear today about some people in leadership positions in our society never happened before?
What is being presented to us is our need to acknowledge our mortality. Role models in the past and today have all had and do have their weaknesses and sin. The important thing is to acknowledge it, and to repent and believe the Gospel. I believe that there are role models in our society and if they are to continue to be a guiding light then they must acknowledge their mortality, frailty, imperfection and sin. All human beings are called to acknowledge these and to repent and believe the Gospel.
The season of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday is a good opportunity for us to develop and practice spiritual disciplines which help us to be ever conscious of our mortality, frailty, imperfection and sin, to acknowledge them, to repent and to seek God’s transforming grace and love. It is a season of forty days and forty nights.
On Ash Wednesday the Church sets out on its Lenten Journey to Easter, the theme is penitence. As a sign of our intention to acknowledge our mortality, human frailty, imperfection and sin, and to repent and believe the Gospel, ashes are blessed and are imposed on our foreheads in the sign of a cross.
Lent is a period of preparation for Easter; the ashes are to remind us of our mortality and of our need of repentance. We are reminded “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” As we prepare for the victory and joy of Easter, think of the depth of God’s love for us miserable sinners, that while we deserved punishment and destruction Almighty God chose to extend love to us through the act of redemption. We truly express our gratitude and Easter becomes most meaningful when we faithfully observe a Holy Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday by receiving the ashes on our foreheads.
See Isaiah 58:1-12. Jonah 3:1-10. Genesis 3:19 ‘
Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter; it is a season of repentance and renewal; through fervent prayer, repentance, self examination, fasting, works of mercy, charity, self-denial and reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. The church year is comprised of seasons of feasting and fasting. Fasting allows us to truly understand, appreciate and experience in a meaningful way not only the joys and delight of a Feast, but also its significance, purpose and meaning. Lent assists us to appreciate in a deeper way the significance of Easter.
Ash Wednesday this year is on Wednesday 17th February. It is an important part of our Christian tradition and heritage, which has helped to mold, shape, nurture and keep us in a deep and abiding relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It reminds us that we are creatures, that we have limits and how important it is for us to acknowledge this, for if we don’t, we may be slowly but surely separating ourselves from God and the ways of God without even knowing it. May we be ever conscious of what Christian Traditions like Lent help to instill in us, they assist in keeping us on the right track and in making healthy, wise and right choices. ·
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it,
15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 4: 14-17)
In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Dengue fever and the effusive eruption of La Soufriere, I hope that you can observe a Holy Lent perhaps with new and creative ways. May the intention of our Lenten acts of devotion, disciplines, and practices be committed to God in conjunction with our prayers for God’s guidance, mercy and deliverance in these trying times.
With every good wish and God’s blessings.
The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands