To: Clergy and People
From: The Bishop
25th February, 2020

Greetings, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5: 1,2).

26th February – Ash Wednesday – Lent 2020

Lent is a season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and last for forty days. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and last for seven days, leading up to Easter. The Sundays in Lent including Palm Sunday are not included in the forty. Lent is a season of fasting however every Sunday in the Christian year is a feast day, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, we do not fast on Sundays. Although there are forty six days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, the Lenten fast last for forty days. It is believed that this present practice where Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday a total of forty days excluding Sundays began in Rome in the seventh century. Originady Lent was a period of preparation, for those who were to be baptized at Easter or notorious sinners who desired to be restored. It was a period of instructions, penitence and fasting.

“Lent” comes from the English noun “Lenten” meaning “the season of spring.” It is during this season that the days began to lengthen. So “Lent” refers to the lengthening of the days during springtime. Since it was around this time that the candidates were prepared for Baptism through instructions, penitencP and fasting the term Lenten fast and season of Lent developed.

The focus of the service on Ash Wednesday will be on repentance,grace and forgiveness. We will be remirded of our mortality, and our need to repent and believe the Gospel. We’ll be invited to receive ashes on our foreheads as the minister says “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” In addition, we’ll be invited to observe a Holy Lent. Let us pray that by the grace of God we can feel and know that we can be honest with God and repent and that we can share our aches and pains with God as well, for God understands.

Lent reminds us that we are sinners and we need to repent. Lent is an annual journey- as a Christian Community we travel together from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This reminds us of our human frailty, and our need to go to the foot of the cross.

We repent to be free, to be able to accept and appreciate God’s forgiveness:

16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. {John 3: 16-17)

Lent is not a period in which we remind God that God needs to forgive us, nor in which we seek to please God so that God may forgive us. It is not about proving anything. Rather it is about reminding ourselves that God loves us so much that God takes away our sins and that God is always willing to forgive.

Lent is a time when we take up spiritual disciplines: we show our intention to repent and our repentance by receiving the ashes on Ash Wednesday, by our prayers and our desire to forgive others and to seek reconciliation; by repentance and renewal; through fervent prayer, self-examination, fasting, works of mercy and charity, self-denial, worship, and reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word and engaging in other spiritual disciplines.

We do not participate in these disciplines because we are more righteous than any one else. These disciplines are to open us to the working of the Holy Spirit that we mav listen to, and see ourselves as we are. To acknowledge our own weaknesses and be aware and conscious of the temptations that come our way and to pray that by God’s grace we may not yield to them.

Do not fear if you do not fulfil your own Lenten plan, programme and discipline, or if you fall short. This is a good opportunity to remind you of your human frailty, it allows you to have a deeper awareness ahd appreciation of your own failings, and more aware of your need for God’s grace and the forgiveness of others.

Journeying through Lent is not about our own strength and fortitude or about being proud of ourselves because we have fasted or kept our Lenten practice for three weeks or more. It is about doing it, and being conscious of the lessons we can and do learn through the experience. Whether we are successful or not in keeping Lent, Easter comes.

We observe the Lenten fast in preparation for feasting at Easter. Fasting reminds us of what hunger and need feel like, so that when we feast, we will know that it is God who provides. It is God who is supreme.

Lent calls us to renew our repentance and faith, to believe in the gospel and that J sus Christ- Crucified, risen, ascended and glorified- is Lord and Gorl and that we have salvation through Jesus Christ.

I invite you to Observe a Holy Lent by participating in the Lenten Observances in your Parish and developing your own Lenten discipline at home. See you in Church on Ash Wednesday.

With every good wish and God’s blessings!

Yours Sincerely

The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands