Churches to observe Lent, Ash Wednesday

Published 8:11 am Monday, March 7, 2011

As the season of Lent approaches, local churches are planning special, community-wide services in observance of this important event on the Christian calendar.

Trinity Episcopal Church will open its doors for two Ash Wednesday services on Wednesday, March 9 at noon and 7 p.m. The church is located at 503 Second Ave. S., Clanton.

Also, Walnut Creek United Methodist Church will once again serve weekly Lenten luncheons each Wednesday at noon from March 16 through April 20. The church is located at 314 County Road 458 (off Airport Road).

For the uninitiated, the Rev. William King of Trinity Episcopal Church explains the significance of Lent and Ash Wednesday:

“One of the oldest seasons in the annual Christian calendar is the season of Lent or the 40 days before Easter. In the early Christian tradition, it was the time for those preparing for baptism at Easter to complete their instructions in the Christian faith within a discipline of fasting, prayer and acts of charity for others.”

King said the tradition of preparation during Lent for Easter baptism is slowly being re-established in many reformed Christian traditions. The word “Lent,” he continued, literally means the coming of spring or for Christians, the coming of Easter.

Among the Christian traditions that now regularly celebrate Ash Wednesday are Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and some Presbyterian churches.

“The 40 days of Lent begin with Ash Wednesday which this year takes place on March 9,” King said. “For some Christians, Ash Wednesday is also a day of fasting as recommended in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Ashes are placed on the forehead of Christians on Ash Wednesday as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness. Ashes are also an ancient sign of atonement, repentance and mourning. The ashes used in many churches come from the burning of the palms used the previous year on Palm Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week just before Easter Sunday.”

Each Wednesday in between, Walnut Creek UMC will serve free Lenten lunches consisting of homemade potato soup, homemade vegetable soup, homemade chili, corn muffins, crackers and a homemade dessert.

Following each meal, a guest singer and guest minister will present relevant messages.

“Come join with us at Walnut Creek and let’s spend the next five weeks preparing ourselves to celebrate the greatest Easter yet,” said Pastor Tony Hughes. “If we narrow Easter down to just Easter Sunday, we’re really not doing it justice and we’re shortchanging ourselves. Lent is a time of preparation when we ask ourselves, ‘Where am I, where am I going, and is God pleased with my life?’”

The schedule of guest ministers and singers is as follows:

•March 16: Tony Smitherman and Eddie Lightsey

•March 23: Randy Reed and Lacey Ellison

•March 30: Jake McCall and Adreane Barrington

•April 6: Greg Dejarnett and Patti Beam

•April 13: Greg Nobles and Jennifer Baker

•April 20: Tony Hughes and Lisa Abbott