Lent to Easter
The Colour Purple
Purple altar hangings and priestly vestments proclaim the sovereignty of Christ crucified and raised. Purple, by reason of its rarity and costliness was associated exclusively in the ancient world with sovereigns and emperors. We Christians have only one king, Jesus, the Lamb among wolves. Falling towards the bottom of the colour chart, purple also effects both worship environment and human emotions. It is a still colour helping us move into silence and attentiveness to God. We come in out of the Perth sun into the shade.
On the Last Sunday before Lent we empty the water from the font and it remains empty for the whole of Lent. We don’t baptize in the weeks of Lent. The font is dry for forty days and forty nights. These are our wilderness days, times of looking within, examining our lives, coming into God’s presence with all our questions and frailties. In this time we grow, we change, we experience God’s never failing grace in our lives and we come to Easter and celebrate new life, life which comes out of death, life that comes out of darkness and stillness. The empty font reminds us of these things.
At 6am and 9.30am on Easter morning we all renew our baptismal vows. It is a great time of year for baptisms of both adults and children. Easter is baptism!
The Paschal Candle is our principal sign of the crucified and living Christ in our midst, burning in our midst from Easter to Pentecost, and at every baptism and funeral through the Christian year. It is taken away in Lent and we bless a new Easter Candle on Easter day.
“All may, none must, some should” is the very Anglican approach to sacramental confession. If you would like to make your confession in Lent, please speak to the Rector.
In Lent we traditionally pray, study, fast and give. This is a valuable way to return to the Lord. We come to the Eucharist and we give ourselves to silence, the prayer of listening. We study to come closer, move deeper into our faith. We give something up and then we can give the cash we have saved to acts of generosity and care for our sisters and brothers.
Advent begins a new liturgical year. The four weeks of Advent is a time of preparation and anticipation of the coming of Christ celebrated at Christmas. We use the colour blue rather than the purple of Lent. This is an old tradition which has found a new home in Australian churches. In the northern hemisphere the days grow shorter and colder and people look forward to the light that will shine in the darkness at Christmas time. In Australia, and especially here in Perth, we are in the midst of summer. The skies are brilliant blue, the sea is aquamarine and through hot days and balmy evenings we look forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Blue reflects the mood of Advent here much better than the deep darkness of purple. It also distinguishes for us the different mood of Lent and Advent. Advent means ‘coming’. In this season we remember the One who came two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, the One who comes every day of our lives, and the One who will come again at the end of time. May Christ be born afresh in us this Christmastime.
Maranatha – what does it mean?
1 Corinthians 16:22b-23
Marana tha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come Lord Jesus!
The word which we use in our Advent intercessions, maranatha, is an Aramaic word. Aramaic is the language which Jesus spoke. This word has been preserved in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth in the original aramaic, much like the word abba for Father is preserved in the texts. Paul’s ends his letter ‘Marana tha’ (marana qa) meaning ‘Our Lord, come’ or ‘O Lord, come’. It might also be translated as ‘Our Lord has come’ – Maran atha. The fact that the aramaic word is preserved probably means that this word was one of the earliest Christian prayers. It seems to have been used as a greeting by early Christians. In the last book of the New Testament, the book called Revelation, the word appears in Greek translation. ‘Come Lord Jesus’. We use this word in our Advent prayers. It expresses a longing for the presence of Jesus and the coming of the kingdom. We pray it with all those people before us who have longed for God’s kingdom of justice, peace and love. This prayer leads us forward into Christmastime when we celebrate God with us, Emmanuel.