Season of Lent
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, February 26, and the following is the schedule of worship services for Lent.
February 26 Ash Wednesday Communion Services
12:00 Noon (a spoken service) & 6:30 PM
Please note the difference in time from our usual Wednesday evening service.
March 4 Wednesday Evening spoken services of communion at 6:30 PM.
March 11 Brief meditations will provide the focus for each service
What is This Season of Lent?
The season of Lent grew out of two practices of the early church: a commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ which involved fasting for a day prior to Easter as a way of cleansing the heart and mind; and the period of preparation prescribed for candidates for Baptism which also involved a fast, but this one lasting 40 days as suggested by Christ’s fast before his ministry began.
The preparation for Baptism was so rigorous because until 313 AD Christianity was illegal and the church was thus an underground organization which had to carefully scrutinize every prospective member. However, when Christianity was legalized, the scrutinies were relaxed and what had been a period of preparation for a few individuals became a time of preparation for all Christians.
At the beginning of the 8th Century, Lent had assumed the traditional character as a time of spiritual discipline and preparation involving fasting and penance. During the Reformation period of the 1500’s, fasting and penance were put on an individual basis and other observances were changed as well. The notion of giving something up for Lent came from this practice of fasting. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Its name comes from the medieval custom of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents as a sign of penance. The ashes came from the burning of the palms from the previous Palm Sunday and pulverizing the ash.
Two other special days during Lent are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Maundy Thursday received its name from the Latin word meaning “new commandment” and refers to the new commandment to love one another which Jesus gave the disciples the night of the Last Supper. Good Friday possibly took its name from the original English name, “God’s Friday”.
Technically, Sundays are not included in Lent but today in most churches the Sunday services reflect the Lenten emphasis on preparation for Easter. The liturgical color for Lent is violet, which signifies Christ’s kingship.
Although many of the original practices of Lent are no longer followed, Lent remains a time to stop in our lives and seek to deepen our faith and commitment to Christ and his way through worship and reflection.
April 5 Palm Sunday Procession of the Palms
We will have the Procession with Palms and celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. (weather
permitting, services will begin outside.)
April 9 Maundy Thursday
Noon Spoken Service of Worship with Communion
6:30 PM Communion Service with Foot-Washing and Stripping of the Altar
According to the gospel accounts, Jesus ate a last meal with his disciples the night before his crucifixion -- what has come to be called The Lord’s Supper, communion. In John’s gospel, it was during that supper that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. It was an act of humble service meant to be an example of what the disciples themselves were to do: they were to humble themselves and serve one another. A little later in the meal, he gave them the commandment that left no doubt about what it meant to be his disciples: they were to love one another. (The Latin word for commandment is mandatum and this is the origin of the name Maundy Thursday.) Following the meal, Jesus was arrested and the disciples deserted him out of fear for their own lives. So Maundy Thursday is the night we are to remember that last meal, remember his commandment, and remember too how he was abandoned.
Our worship service brings all this to mind as we partake of communion, observe the practice of foot-washing, and conclude the service with the stripping of the altar.
Foot-washing has been a part of Maundy Thursday services for centuries. The way we will observe the practice is to have the pastor and an assistant wash the feet of 12 members of the congregation, representing the 12 disciples (the 12 members will be asked the week prior to the service to participate and if you would like to be one of them, speak to Pastor Halenza.) The procedure itself is very simple: the 12 members will come forward one at a time to the altar rail where two chairs and basins will be positioned and there the pastor and his assistant will pour water over their feet and then dry them with a towel. Following the foot-washing of the 12, other members who wish to participate may do so.
The stripping of the altar on Maundy Thursday accurately reflects the gospel accounts and is a powerful way to dramatize what happened that evening and set the stage for our Good Friday observance
April 10 Good Friday
Noon Good Friday Service of Worship
This will be the only service that day -- there will be no evening service. The time of the service is meant to better reflect the gospel accounts of the crucifixion and to provide participants a focus for the remainder of the day.
With the altar having been stripped the previous evening, there will be one single focus: the cross of Christ. The service is a solemn service at the heart of which is the reading of the story of Christ’s passion according to the Gospel of John and the Seven Last Words of Christ. It is a service meant to help us deepen our understanding and experience of the forgiveness, healing, and salvation the cross means for us.
April 11 Holy Saturday
7:00 PM The Great Vigil of Easter at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Once again this year Christ our Hope Lutheran Church is invited to join with the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer for the Vigil of Easter. Redeemer is located at 731 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308. John Sabine, our organist/choirmaster, will serve as cantor for the Vigil and our choir has been invited to join the Redeemer Choir for the Vigil Service.
The Vigil of Easter is the Christian Passover. In this liturgy we celebrate Christ passing from death to life and our own passover from death to life in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The Easter Vigil has been celebrated by Lutherans around the world for centuries. The liturgy consists of four parts: The Service of Light, The Service of Lessons, Holy Baptism and the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, and the Holy Eucharist. The Service of Light begins outside with the Blessing of the New Fire from which the Paschal Candle is lit. All follow the Paschal Candle into the darkened church and once the Paschal Candle has been placed in its stand the light is passed to the gathered community. The Service of Lessons recalling God's saving acts in history is then begun. Baptism follows the service of readings after which Holy Communion is celebrated.
April 12 Resurrection of Our Lord
10:00 AM Festive Service of Communion
We will celebrate the resurrection of Christ with great joy and gladness!
Following the service, we will have our usual fellowship time to give us the opportunity to continue to rejoice and celebrate with one another.