The Ash Wednesday Holy Communion Service was led by our vicar Rev. Shaji Jacob Thomas on Wednesday, 22nd February, marking the beginning of the Lenten season.
During his sermon, Achen spoke about the link between the Lent season and repentance, quoting the holy scriptures. "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15). Ash is a symbol of repentance as depicted in the Old Testament. Ash Wednesday reminds us that man came from dust and will return to dust. Palm leaves received during Hosanna Sunday is later burned and its ash is used as a symbol of repentance. In the days of the old testament, excommunicated members could repent and come back to the Church during lent, where they used to lie down on the floor for others to step on them and enter the Church, as a mark of repentance. The cross of Jesus itself is a symbol of repentance. Usually repentance is considered as a method of freeing ourselves from guilty conscience, rather it should be an act to renew our life. We repent about our wrong actions (sin of commission), but we should also repent about our duties which we neglected (sin of omission).
The book of Prophet Isaiah teaches us to :
1. Wash and make ourselves clean.
2. Remove evil deeds.
3. Stop doing wrong.
4. Learn to do right and seek justice.
5. Defend the oppressed, and
6. Take up the cause of the orphans and widows.
It follows with an assurance in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool...."
In the New testament, First Corinthians is a reply to two letters which Paul received from the Corinthian believers, the first letter mentioning the divisions and immorality of the Church. Paul ended his letter with a note of hope that the Corinthians could have victory over sin and death through the decisive victory of the death and resurrection of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
In conclusion, Achen said that repentance without change in life is hollow. The Cross leads us to repentance and lent should be an opportunity for renewal, enabling us to do what is required to be done.