二○一九年三月十六日／三月十七日 Click here for English version
Reflections and Preparations for Lent
Rev Hung Kwai Fong
In the liturgical calendar, the Lenten season begins on the Wednesday which is the 46th day before Easter Sunday. That is Ash Wednesday, and it falls on March 6 this year. During the morning prayer on Ash Wednesday, ministers paint a cross of ash on the back of the hand of brothers and sisters, saying, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Be sure to steer clear of sin and be God's faithful servant." The ceremony is intended to make brothers and sisters face themselves as they are, and in humility and penance, cherish hope for the future.
Ash Wednesday reminds believers to feel remorse for sin in sackcloth and ashes just like the chosen Israelite people in the old days. Throughout the Lenten season, believers are to humble themselves before God, reflect on their sins, and seek God's mercy and forgiveness. God has promised: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isaiah 57:15). Believers are to refocus themselves, turning from their own needs to the will of God, and with devotional, prayer and personal reflection, align themselves with God and commit to Him in renewed consecration.
During Lent, some believers choose to fast to certain extents to seriously tackle their sins. They may even deal with lifestyles or obstacles that get in the way of a good relationship with God. This is to really experience how the Lord Jesus brings "freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." They may be clearing before the Lord the bitterness or anger in their hearts, forfeiting some luxury items or certain matters. A sister tries to abstain from her favorite desserts for 46 days. Some others who are glued to their handsets turn off their mobile phones for an hour each evening to make room for quiet time. There are plenty of Scriptural material for reflection during Lent to help us get closer to God and walk with Him.
Besides personal reflection, Lent is also about actual actions of generosity and love. "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" (Isaiah 58:6-7) A believer uses the money for daily coffee to share meals with others. A couple spend their money for a big weekly feast on food coupons for the needy. We can also call up brothers and sisters who have been absent from fellowship meetings for a long time to express care and love. We can also visit and pray with the sick and those in adversity. All of this will turn our attention from our own needs to the needs of others.
During the Lenten season, whether through reflection, meditation, fasting or acts of love, let our hearts be fully prepared in anticipation of commemorating the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.