By the Rev Dr Colin Lawlor, vicar of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville
A little over two weeks ago, on March 6, people gathered at St George’s Church for Ash Wednesday.
During the course of the service, a cross made from ashes was imposed on the head of each one of us.
This is something that would have been replicated in churches across the world.
The origin of the use of ash goes right back in history to Old Testament times, where it was used as a sign of mourning, mortality, and penance.
From the very early days of the Christian church, ashes were used in a similar way, and from at least the 8th century, we find examples of the use of ashes being adapted to mark the beginning of Lent, the period of preparation for Easter, which lasts for 40 days (excluding Sundays).
We are now almost mid-way through Lent, which, for Christians, is a kind of pilgrimage with Christ in which we will walk with him to Jerusalem, where he is to be betrayed, killed and then, on Easter Day, raised from the dead.
For Christians, Lent is a time for us to reflect upon our lives, to ask God for forgiveness for those things we have done wrong, and to seek to turn to Christ (which is what repentance means).
At St George’s, as in other churches, there will be additional services during Lent, including Stations of the Cross, where we reflect upon Christ’s final journey to Calvary, and Lenten meditations.
This will culminate in Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Day.
On Palm Sunday we will recreate Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem with a procession from the precinct in Waterlooville – along with a donkey, the animal on which Jesus entered into Jerusalem.
On Maundy Thursday, we will reflect upon his betrayal and arrest, and on Good Friday the focus will be on the crucifixion.
Finally on Holy Saturday, at our Easter Vigil, we will celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and again on Sunday morning at our Easter Day Family Eucharist, which will be followed by an Easter Egg hunt for children.
Details of all services and activities can be found on our website stgeorges.church
St George’s Church is in St George’s, Way, Waterlooville