Lenten Season

The Lenten season is the period leading up to the Easter celebration.  The six-week season includes the following events: Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and finally, Easter.  This article will describe each event in chronological order and how this church celebrates the season.

Shrove or Fat Tuesday (February 9th): This event is the day BEFORE the Lenten season starts.  The origin of Fat Tuesday is this is the day to consume all your sweets before you “fast” for Lent.  To avoid temptation during the Lenten season, people would clean out their cupboards and have a feast to use all of their “sweets”.  At our church, we will be celebrating with pancakes and sausages, hosted by our Youth Group.

Ash Wednesday (February 10th): Ash Wednesday service is a service that we “recognize our mortality, repent of our sins and return to our Loving God” (1).  At this service, the minister will burn ashes and make the sign of the cross using the ashes on your forehead.  NOTE: This is voluntary.  The symbolism of this ceremony is that ashes represent mortality and sin, and the cross represents Jesus’ resurrection (Life after death) and forgiveness.

Lent (February 11th – March 26th): Lent is a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) that represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness enduring temptation from Satan before he started his ministry.  During Lent, Christians often participate in the season by giving up something.  At First United Methodist Church of Riverside, we also celebrate the season by holding our Lenten Soup Supper program.  Each Wednesday of Lent, the church serves soup and has a program specifically for the season.  For this year’s Lent season, please see our brochure.

Palm Sunday (March 20th): Palm Sunday is a celebration of the entry into Jerusalem by Jesus.  On this Sunday, our children re-enact Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

Maundy Thursday (March 24th): Maundy Thursday is the holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. Our Church will re-enact this important event.

Good Friday (March 25th): Good Friday (from the meanings “pious”, “holy” of the word “good”) is the holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary (Golgotha). The holiday may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover.

Easter Sunday (March 27th): Easter is the oldest and most important festival of the Christian year, celebrating Jesus Christ’s resurrection following his crucifixion on Good Friday. Christ’s resurrection forms the basis of Christian faith as it demonstrates Jesus to be the Son of God, and symbolises his conquest of death.

The Easter Story

According to the Gospels it was at sunrise on the 3rd day following Jesus’ death that the women who followed Jesus found the great stone blocking his tomb had been rolled away, and the tomb empty. The Gospel of John (20.14-16) relates how Mary Magdalene meets Jesus by the tomb, but does not at first recognise him, taking him to be a gardener. Finally realising that he has indeed risen from the dead, as he had promised he would, she runs to tell the disciples the good news.

These events fulfil the prophecy that ‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.’ (Luke 24.7).

Easter is related to the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover).