Lent represents an opportunity for Christians around the world to contemplate their walk with Jesus and the things which hold us back from an intimate relationship with our Saviour. Yesterday, Christians were given opportunities to reflect and repent of that which distracts at Ash Wednesday services. Schools within the Diocese were also part of the occasion, with approximately 120 students at Wellington’s St Mark’s receiving the imposition of the ashes, and some beautiful photos coming from Marton’s Huntley School (see below).
In Wellington, the Cathedral of St Paul held numerous services throughout the day, culminating in an ecumenical service at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a few doors up the road. Anglicans were received at the service with a warm welcome from Cardinal John Dew. The Dean of Wellington, the Very Rev Digby Wilkinson, preached at the service, at which the Prime Minister was also in attendance.
Church camaraderie was also alive and well in Whanganui, where parishioners attended an ecumenical service at St Anne’s Catholic Church in the evening, as well as services at All Saints’ and St Peter’s Anglican Churches throughout the day, at which parishioners from across the city attended. According to Rev John Hancox, Priest Assistant in the Parish of Gonville, there were some attendees at Whanganui services for whom this was their first Ash Wednesday service. John told us that the significance of each part of the service was explained, and that many discovered afresh the beauty and solmenity of the tradition which dates back over a thousand years.
Solemnity was also a mark of Ash Wednesday services held in Carterton, according to Archdeacon of Wairarapa, Rev May Croft. People attending the evening service around dusk entered a dimly lit church with the day’s final sunlight shining beautifully through the stained glass windows. The intimacy of the place created a perfect environment to look inward at what one’s walk with Jesus might look like, said May, and think not just of what one might give up for Lent, but what one might begin. “I spoke of the tradition of giving something up for Lent,” May tells us, “but how we might consider picking up something new. Perhaps a commitment to reading the Bible and daily devotions each day throughout Lent? Or to phone someone whom we find difficult to talk to?” Maybe this approach to repentance – to turn and walk in the direction in which we are called by the Lord – is a useful way to begin Lent, to prepare for Easter, and to refresh our journey together as family.
How are you committing afresh to your walk with Jesus? We’d love you to email us with stories of what God is doing in your lives – your families, small groups, parishes and communities.
Bishop Justin has released a Lenten Collect for all of us to use at every occasion during the period of Lent. Read more
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul held Pancake Races on Shrove Tuesday, commemorating the night before the beginning of Lent – view their video on Facebook here.
Christians around the world mark the beginning of Lent from The Anglican Journal, the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada.