Niagara Falls First United Methodist Church
Loving God and serving our neighbors in Jesus' name
All gatherings at the First UMC are suspended through March 31.
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We strive to know God’s love for us through Jesus Christ,
to accept that love in discipleship,
and share that love with the world.
WorshipSunday Worship at 10:00 am
Address8210 Buffalo Ave.Niagara Falls, NY 14304
Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. Lent always starts on a Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter, excluding Sundays. In the Ash Wednesday service the minister marks the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead with the smudging of ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus' resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It's a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God's forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.
The ashes come from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. On that day Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem while people waved palms and cheered him on. Less then a week later, Jesus was crucified. The palms that were waved in joy became ashes of sorrow. Ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies become dust/ash. Repentance, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear "sackcloth" (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.
Remember, at Jesus' baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased." Afterward, Jesus was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. During his time there he was tempted by Satan and found clarity and strength to resist temptation. He then was ready to begin his ministry.
Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. Lent is a great time to "repent" -- to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It's a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart.
Taken from an article written by Rev. Penny Ford (Alabama) in Cedar Falls Iowa, http://aboutfirst.com/lent-explained