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Ash Wednesday (March 6) marks the beginning of Lent — traditionally it is a penitential season of self-examination, prayer, fasting and works of love. In many churches, ashes are placed on the forehead as a reminder of the shortness of life.

The word “Lent” is from the Middle English verb meaning “to lengthen.” In the Northern Hemisphere, the season corresponds with the lengthening of days during late winter and early spring.

During Lent, Christians prepare themselves spiritually for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. The season spans forty days: the number forty symbolizes the spiritual journey home, corresponding to the forty days Jesus fasted in the desert before he began his public ministry and the forty years Israel journeyed through the wilderness towards the promised land. The color of Lent is purple. During Holy Week, red is sometimes worn to symbolize the blood shed by Jesus for the salvation of humanity.

At Abbey Way

This year at Abbey Way we will be focusing on the "I am sayings" in the Gospel of John which will help us understand and encounter who Jesus is as we journey towards the remembrance of Jesus death and celebration of his resurrection.


Ordinary Time I: The Season after Epiphany

Epiphany is celebrated traditionally on January 6 or on the Sunday closest to this date. In the Eastern church, this is the date associated with the celebration of Christ's birth. In the West, the feast has a double theme: the visit of the three Magi or "Wise Men" who brought gifts to the infant Jesus, and the "manifestation" (epiphaneia in Greek) of Christ's Good News (Gospel).

The first Sunday after the Epiphany is the Baptism of Christ—an observance of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River and a time to remember our own baptism into the Body of Christ. The remaining Sundays until Ash Wednesday are part of Ordinary Time—a season that serves as a bridge between the major seasons of the Church Year, in this case, between Christmas and Lent. The traditional color of Ordinary Time is green, a symbol of spiritual growth.


Holy Week

The Season of Lent ends with Holy Week, beginning with Palm (or “Passion”) Sunday and continuing with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. (“Passion” is from the Latin passio, meaning “suffering.”) The color for most of Holy Week is red—symbolizing the blood shed by Jesus onthe cross.

Maundy Thursday, however, is an exception to the somber and introspective mood that normally prevails during Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday, Christians gather to remember the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples—an event Christians associate with the first celebration of Holy Communion (or the “Lord’s Supper”). So the color of the day is festal white.

“Maundy” is derived from the Latin word, “mandatum,” meaning “commandment.” The celebrationrecalls not only the Last Supper but Jesus’ last commandment to his disciples: “love one another as I have loved you.”

Good Friday is the observance of the arrest, crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The center of attention is the cross: hanging criminals on a cross was a common method of execution in the Roman Empire. As Christians behold the cross on Good Friday, they remember the arms of the Savior of the world, stretched out on the wood of the cross for the salvation of humanity.


Why the Revised Common Lectionary?

The Bible lesson we choose every week is selected from the Revised Common Lectionary, © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. The lectionary provides three readings—one from Hebrew Scripture and two from the New Testament, plus a psalm or song from the Bible. Many congregations use all three readings on Sundays and greater Holy Days. Others use only one reading plus the psalm for the week like Abbey Way. The readings rotate on a three year cycle (A, B & C).

The Revised Common Lectionary is widely used in Protestant and Anglican churches, and is similar to the lectionary used in all Roman Catholic congregations. That means that every Sunday, Christians of many traditions throughout the world are literally on "the same page"—a powerful symbol of our unity in Christ.

The weekly lessons and readings for Cycle B can be found at

~Adapted from Weekly Seeds an In-Depth Reflection on Next Sunday's Reading