LAURINBURG — Some local churches will be celebrating something different on Valentine’s Day this year.
Ash Wednesday falls on Feb. 14 this year and a number of local churches will begin their annual Lenten observances then.
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, or the 40 days leading up to Easter.
The Lenten Lunch services have been held at First United Methodist Church’s fellowship hall for over 20 years. The services take place every Wednesday at noon until the Wednesday before Easter.
Lunch will be served after every service for a donation of $6.
The first service takes place on Feb. 14, and Rev. Billy Olsen of St. Luke United Methodist Church will deliver the first service.
On Feb. 21 Rev. Dr. Kenneth Locklear, Gateway District Superintendent, will speak.
Rev. Vermel Taylor of Galilee United Methodist Church will preach the sermon on Feb. 28.
On March 7, Rev. Reginald Oxendine of Sneads Grove United Methodist Church will speak.
Rev. Steven Teague of St. David’s Episcopal Church will preach on March 14.
Rev. Kenneth Blease Northview Harvest Ministries will deliver the message on March 21.
Rev. Linda Nelson of the Lutheran Church of the Living Word will lead the final service on March 28.
On Feb. 13 and 14 St. David’s Episcopal Church will prepare for Lent with two events. On Tuesday, The church will hold its annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper at 506 Azure Court from 5 to 7 p.m. Plates re $6 per person. On Wednesday, St. David’s will hold an Ash Wednesday service at 7 p.m. There will be an imposition of ashes and Holy Eucharist. The Rev. Steven Teague will preach to start the Lenten season.
Lent is the 40-day period prior to Easter, not counting Sundays. The word Lent comes from the old Anglo Saxon word for spring — lencten.
The season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday or Black Saturday, the day Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb.
The season is observed for 40 days to mark the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying before he began his Earthly ministry.
Lent is meant a time for self-examination, repentance and fasting to prepare for the arrival of Easter.
Sundays are not counted as part of Lent because they are looked upon as a “mini-Easter” to anticipate the wonder of the resurrection.
The Lenten season is considered a “tithe of time” because the 40-day period accounts for one tenth of the year.
Churches often hold Ash Wednesday services and worshippers are given a mark of ashes in the shape of a cross on their forehead.
In Jewish and Christian history, ashes and sackcloth represented mourning, repentance and mortality because the body returns to ash or dust when it dies. Ashes on one’s the forehead are a reminder of the uncomfortable nature of sin and that sin kills the spirit.
The cross reminds the penitent that there is hope in the resurrection.
The ashes are palm fronds that have been blessed, burned and mixed with anointing oil.
Those who observe Lent often give up something like a favorite food or drink or participate in a fast. Some give donate their time to become a benefit to others, as a personal sacrifice to draw closer to God.
Mardi Gras and Lent
Mardi Gras is a secular celebration that arose from Lent.
Lent was usually observed by fasting, so on the day before Ash Wednesday, which came to be known as Great Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, people would clean out their cupboards and prepare a feast to remove all temptation from the home. Often, family and friends were invited to share the meal; Mardi Gras evolved from this feast.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169