The Season of Lent
Lent forms part of the liturgical calendar in both the Western and Eastern Churches. Like other seasons and celebrations within the church year, Lent serves to relive part of the earthly life of Jesus.
Lent is a forty day period before Easter, not taking in to account Sundays in the calculations. This year it begins on March 8th and lasts until April 22nd.
In the first three centuries this period, which was a time of fasting, did not normally exceed 2 or 3 days (to commemorate the sufferings of Jesus within the tomb). The first mention of a period of forty days (remembering Jesus' forty days in the wilderness) dates from around AD 325, although until a much later date (possibly AD 800) the period was calculated differently in different churches.
In the early centuries, there was very strict observance of Lent, with only one meal allowed per day - and meat forbidden. In the West this strict observance was gradually relaxed until the Roman Catholic Church in 1966 officially declared that fasting should be restricted to the first day of Lent and Good Friday.
Lent is very definitely a season of reflection, leading up to Easter. A time to consider the significance of the life of Jesus. A time to consider the weight of the mission which He carried upon His shoulders, that led him to spend those 40 days in the wilderness, a mission which ultimately led Him to give his life for us.
It is said that Pretzels were cooked by German bakers to represent a Christian at prayer, with his palms on opposite shoulders, making a criss-cross of his forearms.
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Pentecost, the great Feast of the Holy Trinity and the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Disciples of Christ owes its name to the Jewish feast which occurs fifty days after Pesach, Passover, and on which the descent of the Spirit occurred.
The Jewish feast of Pentecost has three traditional names:
A quaint legend says the Law was given early in the morning, and the Hebrews were still sleeping when the moment came, so that the Lord had to wake them. They rose to find the whole of Mount Sinai abloom with flowers.
Pious Jews keep vigil throughout the night at Pentecost, studying the Law, to be ready in the early hours of the day to celebrate the giving of the Law to Moses. Many homes and Synagogues are decorated with flowers and branches of greenery for the feast. In Eastern Orthodox churches the tradition also exists of decorating the church with flowers and greenery for Pentecost, as the Spirit of Life and Sanctification is poured out, on the World’s Re-birth.
Passover is the festival of freedom and liberation: freed from slavery and from Egyptian idolatry, the Israelites journey to Mount Sinai where they are offered the Law and Covenant which sanctify God's people. Pascha is the festival of our liberation from the bondage of sin and death: Pentecost the festival of our sanctification as God's people by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church.
The Haftorah reading for Jewish Pentecost is the Scroll of Ruth. This has a profound significance for Christians. Ruth, a Moabite woman brought into the house of Israel by her love for her husband and her mother-in-law, is a symbol of the gentile Church, won for the God of Israel by love. She comes, fleeing famine and death and finds new life and new hope: we come to find new life in the Risen Christ and are united with Him in His death and Resurrection, immersed in the waters over which His Spirit broods.
Ruth is an ancestor of the Prophet-King David, the Anointed of God. Jewish tradition holds that David both was born on Pentecost and died on Pentecost.
In Western Christian use, red (for the fire of the Spirit) is the colour of Pentecost: in the East green is more commonly used, the colour of New Life.
Acknowledgement given to unknown source for this information
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