On the eve of Lent, we celebrate Shrove Tuesday at St Paul’s Church, Bryer Road, with a Pancake Praise Party, an act of worship with food and fun for all ages. Please join us at 3.30pm on Tuesday 21 February.
The following day marks the beginning of Lent, a period of 40 days mirroring the 40 years the Israelites wandered through the wilderness towards the Promised Land, and the 40 days Jesus later spent fasting in the wilderness, in preparation for his ministry. We celebrate this at St Mary’s Church with a (spoken) Holy Communion at 10am and Sung Eucharist at 7.30pm on Ash Wednesday, 22 February.
What is Lent?
Lent is a time of reflection on the reality of our human nature: The facts that our bodies will some day die, and that we are imperfect – we sin against God and one another, ‘through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault,’ as we confess in the Eucharist. On Ash Wednesday we receive the cross in ashes on our foreheads as a reminder that we are imperfect and a call to turn from sin and follow Christ, the only one who can save us from what St Paul calls ‘this body of death.’
It is not simply a time of gloom, however. In recognising our mortality, we also recognise that we have hope in God. Lent is a time of anticipation, looking ahead to the Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, when Jesus suffers with us and for us, dying on the cross, declaring victory in the depths of hell and triumphing over sin and death by rising to new life on Easter Day.
Why do we receive ashes on our foreheads?
Ashes are traditionally a sign of mourning. They show our sorrow at the reality of sin and death, but also our longing to be saved from it and our resolve to look to God, who alone can bring us lovingly out of sin and into eternal life in his Son, Jesus Christ. The attitude of turning away from sin and towards God is what we call repentance or penitence, a key theme of the Lenten season.
Why do we give up things in Lent?
The 40 days of Lent are a fast, an ancient tradition of abstaining from food as a sign of mourning or penitence. This may include days of not eating at all (if you ever do this, you should always seek professional medical advice, especially if you have a health condition) or eating very little. We can fast from almost anything – a particular hobby or pleasure, say – and it is common to replace it with something that will help us grow spiritually, such as prayer, reading or a new habit.
Lent lasts 40 days, but this does not include Sundays, as Sunday is always a feast day, when we are allowed to break our fast. This takes the entire season to 46 days, leading up to Holy Week and Easter.
Holy Week and Easter at Prescot Parish Church
Please join us each Sunday at 10am for our Lenten Eucharist, then at the following dates and times as we celebrate Jesus’ journey through suffering and death to new life:
- Sunday 2 April 10am Sung Eucharist for Palm Sunday (Jesus’ final journey to the Holy City)
- Wednesday 5 April 10am Holy Communion for Holy Wednesday
- Thursday 6 April 7.30pm Sung Eucharist for Maundy Thursday (Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; his washing their feet, instituting the Eucharist and agony and betrayal in the garden)
- Friday 7 April 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm The Good Friday Hours (Jesus’ trial and crucifixion)
- Saturday 8 April 7.30pm Easter Vigil (from the darkness of the tomb to the light of Jesus’ resurrection)
- Sunday 9 April 10am Sung Eucharist for Easter Day (He is risen!)