Thursday, April 2, 2009

All Saints Anglican Rector Talks “Lent and Easter 101”

Reverend Michael Fry, Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Peachtree City, sat down with Freddy Burdeshaw recently and fielded some basic questions about the Christian seasons.

1. Burdeshaw:A neighbor asked me to explain all the smutty looking foreheads a couple of Wednesdays back; what should I say?

Fry: The Christian tradition of marking worshipers foreheads with ashes dates back well over 1,000 years and symbolizes the penitence of the faithful as the season of Lent begins. You may have heard of the Biblical expression of repenting in “sackcloth and ashes.”

2. Burdeshaw: Okay, I understand the ashes are placed on foreheads as a sign of repentance. Where do the ashes come from? Will any ashes do? How are they placed?

Fry: Traditionally the ashes are the burned remains of palms that were used in the Palm Sunday service the year before, but any ashes will do. They are placed on the forehead in the form of a cross.

3. Burdeshaw: Well, since Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, where do the terms of Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras come into play?

Fry: “Shrove Tuesday” is the eve of Lent. The term comes from the old English word “shrive” meaning to forgive. There has historically been an emphasis on the importance of the faithful confessing their sins as the season begins.

“Mardi Gras” is a French term meaning “Fat Tuesday.” It comes from the tradition of abstaining from sweets and fat during Lent (in years past, fat was considered a good thing). So there was often quite a celebration on the eve of Lent as all the goodies were consumed from the pantry since they wouldn’t keep over the next seven weeks.

4. Burdeshaw: Would you explain the church season of Lent and its connection with Easter?

Fry: The term “lent” comes from an old English word meaning “spring” (similar to lengthen –as in the daylight hours are getting longer each day). In church language it refers to the forty weekdays before Easter: As Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness before embarking on his ministry, so Christians have long undertook a forty-day preparation for the Easter celebration. The hope is that by observing the time-honored Christian traditions associated with the season that the Easter celebration will be more meaningful and we will all have grown spiritually through the process.

5. Burdeshaw: I know Lent involves fasting and I take that to mean not eating! Some of us fat boys can’t deal with that! Is this absolutely required?

Fry: Various churches have different practices—some more strict than others. In our church, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only days where fasting is clearly proscribed. The manner of fasting varies according to individuals’ spiritual practices and health. This can range from an absolute fast (no food or water for a period of time) to simply a reduction in portion size and abstinence from certain foods.

6. Burdeshaw: Are there other activities Christians are supposed to observe during Lent besides fasting?

Fry: Definitely. A primary activity of the season is for Christians to undergo a period of self-examination—asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas of our lives where we have fallen short of God’s perfect will. Fasting is actually an aid in this process.

Other activities associated with Lent include taking on additional acts of charity as well as added religious devotions. It is hoped that some new outreach or spiritual practice that we undertake for these seven weeks might become part of our regular routine even after Easter so that we emerge from the season as stronger Christians who have drawn nearer to our Lord.

7.Burdeshaw: It seems the number 40 has numerous Biblical connections, including the days preceding the crucifixion of Jesus. Did God plan for all of these “40 day events?”

Fry: While the reason behind it is not specified in the Bible, the time period of forty days or forty years occurs frequently. For example: In the time of Noah it rained forty days and forty nights; When Moses went up on to Mt. Sinai to receive the law he was there forty days and forty nights; The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after escaping Egypt and, as I mentioned earlier, Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights before beginning his public ministry. Since the figure has Biblical significance, we can presume it has spiritual significance as well.

8.Burdeshaw: Apparently Palm Sunday is an integral part of Holy Week. Does this commemorate some historical event related to the Passion of Christ?

Fry: Yes—The service and the day are a time when we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his crucifixion. In the Bible we are told that crowds welcomed him by spreading their garments and cut branches on the road before him. John’s Gospel particularly mentions them being palms.

Many people don’t know this, but we have a first-hand historical account that the services we celebrate today for Holy Week were celebrated in Jerusalem as early as the 4th century A.D. (and probably earlier). If you Google “Travels of Egeria” you will find a pilgrim’s tale of her visit to the Holy Land and the Christian celebrations held there, including the reenactment of “Palm Sunday.”

9.Burdeshaw: I recently heard the term “Spy Wednesday” for the first time in connection to Judas. What is the meaning of that?

Fry: It’s not a term I’ve heard used a lot, but it refers to the day that Judas met with the religious authorities in Jerusalem and agreed to betray Jesus so that they could arrest and try him (two days before his death on the cross).

10. Burdeshaw: Thanks Father Michael for your patience in answering what I know are some dumb questions. One final question: What are the plans at All Saints for Holy Week?

Fry: You’re welcome, and they were very good questions. We will celebrate Palm Sunday on April 5th at our 10:30 AM service; On Thursday the 9th at 7:00 PM we will commemorate the last supper; Good Friday (April 10th) we will also hold our commemoration at 7:00 PM. Our first Easter service will actually be held on Saturday night after sundown (8:30 PM) and then we will have two on Sunday morning at 8:00 & 10:30 AM.
All Saints Anglican Church is located at 303 Kelly Drive in Peachtree City.

Palm Sunday (Apr 5 at 10:30)
Maundy Thursday (Apr 9 at 7 pm)
Good Friday (Apr 10 at 7 pm)
Easter Eve Morning Prayer (Apr 11 @ 8:30 am)
Easter Egg Hunt (Apr 11 @11 a.m.) (Call 770-486-5374 for directions)
Easter Vigil (Apr 11 @ 8:30 pm)
Easter Sunday (Apr 12 @ 8:00 am and 10:30 am)
Fayette Front Page
Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone

No comments:

Post a Comment