St. Andrew’s starts Lent with feast, Ash Wednesday services

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Two events at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Harriman, will mark the beginning of preparation for the most important holy day of the Christian year.

An annual feast of pancakes will be served from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Shrove Tuesday, March 8, in the church at 190 Circle Drive. Two traditional Ash Wednesday services will take place at noon and 7 p.m. March 9.

“Tradition remains an important part of what the Christian faith is all about, because when the church recognizes holy days and seasons, it connects Christians of today with Christians throughout history,” said the Rev. Joseph Pinner, St. Andrew’s rector.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and begins 40 days of preparation for the commemoration of the Passion of Jesus and his Resurrection on Easter.

Lent was first observed in the fourth century and recalls Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness.

It focuses on self-examination and self-denial. The church has set aside the period for the deepening of personal faith and knowing more clearly what is celebrated on Good Friday and Easter Sunday — nothing less than Salvation of those believers as they seek to become one with Christ.

Shrove Tuesday, known as Pancake Tuesday throughout Europe and Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday in the United States, begins the fasting period when the faithful were forbidden to consume meat, butter, eggs or milk.

In New Orleans, Fat Tuesday kicks off the annual Mardi Gras festival with countless celebrations before the austere Lenten season.

Through ashes placed on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, the faithful are reminded of their mortality. The ashes are also signs of penitence before God and each other — an outward acknowledgement that all fall short of His intention for them.

“Fasting and self-examination during Lent are, of course, personal matters, but this year we are utilizing one of our member’s personal Lenten disciplines as a parish-wide discipline,” Pinner said. “Basically, it involves matching what we spend on personal items during Lent with a donation to an outreach program or charity.”

Christians observe the beginning of Holy Week on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, by celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

When Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, a large crowd of people in the city spread palm branches on the ground before Him as a sign of His kingship.

At St. Andrew’s, the Palm Sunday service will begin at 10 a.m. April 17.

The balance of the days of Holy Week includes a series of pre-Easter festivities commemorating the final days of Christ’s life.

Probably developed in the fourth century, it follows Jesus from Palm Sunday to his death on Good Friday in preparation for his rising from the dead on Easter.

Services are planned for Maundy Thursday, April 21, and Good Friday, April 22. Easter services begin at 10 a.m. April 24.

Call St. Andrew’s at 882-1272 or visit www.standrewharriman.org for details.