By Jenny Culpepper - Sales, Marketing, and Church Relations
This Lent, you are invited to take a journey into the heart of the crucified life. Jesus challenged his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
The season of Lent is a 40-day journey of self-denial. Through “self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 265), we are invited by the Church and the Lord to prepare ourselves for the annual celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week and Easter. We accomplish this through a concentrated time of “taking up our cross.”
The 40-day period begins with the service of Ash Wednesday. Here we acknowledge our finite and mortal nature: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). While speaking these words, the priest applies ashes to our foreheads in the sign of the cross. As disciples, we are marked for crucifixion—taking up our own cross.
The message delivered during an Ash Wednesday service is often related to the last words Jesus uttered from the cross. The four Gospel witnesses—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—testify that Jesus spoke seven distinct times from the cross:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” - Luke 23:34
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” - Luke 23:43
“Woman, behold your son! ... Behold your mother!” - John 19:26-27
“I thirst.” - John 19:28
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” - Matthew 27:46
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” - Luke 23:46
“It is finished.” - John 19:30
Traditionally, these seven sayings have been associated with seven words:
This Lenten season, you are invited to walk daily toward the cross of Christ with humility and purpose, to personally embrace the salvific work of Jesus on your behalf, and then to behold anew the resurrection joy of Easter.
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