THE LENTEN LESSONS
Keep a True Lent
THE WORD LENT comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for spring, which is derived from a verb meaning to lengthen. Lent comes in the spring when the days become noticeably longer.
This annual season of fasting, prayer, and penitence has been observed by the Western Church since the first century after Christ, although it has not always been forty days long. In more recent times it has been kept forty days, after the example of Moses and Elijah, and to commemorate the forty days of fasting and prayer that Jesus spent in the wilderness.
The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the custom that prevailed in the early Church of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents on the first day of Lent, in token of repentance for sin.
Ash Wednesday comes forty-six days before Easter. There are six Sundays in Lent, and they are not considered part of Lent, because in the Western Church Sunday is always a feast day. The forty weekdays beginning with Ash Wednesday constitute Lent.
The fifth Sunday in Lent is known as Passion Sunday, because it marks the beginning of Passion-tide, the last two weeks of Lent. These two weeks specifically commemorate the Passion of Jesus, or His experiences following the Last Supper.
The last week of Lent is called Holy Week. It includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem when the people strewed palms in His way.
Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, is a corruption of the Latin word mandati meaning “of the commandment,” and refers to the command “This do in remembrance of me” spoken by Jesus in regard to His breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine at the Last Supper. Maundy Thursday commemorates the event of the Last Supper.
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, probably known originally as God’s Friday, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.
Easter Day, of course, commemorates the Resurrection. The word Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Eastre, the name of the Goddess of spring, in whose honor a festival was celebrated each April. Easter Day always comes on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after March 21. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is the next Sunday. Easter can never fall earlier than March 22 nor later than April 25.
Lent is a season of spiritual growth, a time for progressive unfoldment. When we can blend and merge our mind with God-Mind, the way is open for the Lord to glorify us and to lift us into a higher, purer, more spiritual state.
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” said Jesus. Unity students everywhere are invited to participate yearly in our Lenten program. Christ is in our midst, as the God of our planet, as the one great Teacher. Place all burdens on the Lord and enter the Lenten season expecting definite results.
Fasting means abstaining from; it is abstinence. The place of overcoming is in the consciousness of man. The forty-day fast is an all-round denial of sense demands. In fasting, we as metaphysicians abstain from error thinking and meditate on spiritual Truth until we incorporate it into the consciousness of oneness with the Father.
The desire to excel is in all men. It is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which ever urges us on through earth toward heaven. It should be encouraged and cultivated in the right direction.
As day after day we steadily adhere to our firm resolve to follow the steps outlined for the Lenten season, we discover that we are building on a firm foundation, and are mounting into a higher consciousness. We come to know that Christ is indeed with us and is resurrecting in us His realizations of light, life, and substance.
1st Day, Ash Wednesday. Read Matthew 5:1-16.
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is so-called from the ceremonial of ashes. Ashes symbolize repentance.
John the Baptist came, saying, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance means denial; it is a relinquishment and should be made without too much vehemence. Therefore, I deny out of consciousness old error thoughts, as if I were gently sweeping away cobwebs, and I affirm positively and fearlessly that I am a child of God, and that my inheritance is from Him.
As I follow this rule I find that I am letting go of old mortal beliefs and the Divine within is flaming higher and higher. Its pure white light is infusing all my surroundings with a delightful spirit of wisdom, dignity, and peace. I realize more and more the law of righteous thinking that is bringing me into a consciousness of my perfect dominion.
In Christ it is not difficult to eliminate belief in strife and contention. If petty quarrels, jealousy, uncharitable thoughts come into my life, I overcome them by a quiet but positive denial made in the realization that no error has any power or reality in itself. I turn away from the belief in negation, and my thinking changes. I rid my consciousness of limited thoughts that have encumbered and darkened my understanding. I break down mortal thought and ascend into a spiritual realm, the kingdom of the heavens.
In the spirit of divine love I affirm: “Forgetting the things that are behind, I realize I am strong, positive, powerful, wise, loving, fearless, free spirit. I am God’s perfect child.”
2d Day, Thursday. Read Luke 7:1-17.
The science of Spirit is the orderly study of truths formulated in Divine Mind according to the operation of universal law. An affirmation is a positive and orderly statement of Truth. By affirmation we claim and appropriate that which is ours.
The Word is the working power of Divine Mind. One will never go down to defeat if in his hour of need he positively affirms the almightiness of God-Mind through Christ, and invokes its help in his behalf.
I declare that as a child of God I am now entering the Christ consciousness of perfection. This is in itself an affirmation, the highest I can make. Jesus helped Himself into this high state of being by His use of the spoken word. He continually made the very highest affirmations such as, “I and the Father are one,” “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” I am joint heir with Jesus to the infinite good of the kingdom, and by the faithful use of my spoken word I claim my heavenly good.
Faith is the result of many affirmations. Each affirmation helps to build up a substantial, firm, unwavering state of mind, because it establishes Truth in consciousness.
As day by day I repeat and courageously live affirmations of Truth, I come to know that I am opening a channel of intelligent communication with the silent forces at the depths of being; thoughts and words therefrom flow forth, and I realize an entirely new source of power developing within me.
I affirm: “Through Jesus Christ I realize my divine sonship, and I am transformed into His image and likeness.”
3d Day, Friday. Read John 15:1-16.
“God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” We do not see God with our physical eyes excepting as He manifests Himself through His works. His attributes are therefore brought into expression by man who is His son and who is like Him in essence. Jesus was a true expression of God because He was like Him. If we would manifest the divine attributes, we must seek to attain the consciousness and the understanding that characterized Jesus. We must endeavor to raise our thoughts and feelings to God’s level if we would make ourselves channels through which He can come forth into expression and manifestation.
God transcendent suggests God as above and beyond His creation. This idea of God as remote from the practical affairs of man or from man’s own experience is false. God (perfection) is not out of reach of His offspring nor something beyond or above them. Tennyson tells us that “closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.”
I am centered in God because I focus my attention on His ideas and ideals. The Holy Spirit, which is the Word of God in action, leads me into a consciousness of my divine sonship and inheritance. My inheritance from Him is executive ability, abundant supply, faithfulness, joy, all good. “I am thy portion and thine inheritance.”
In the name of Jesus Christ I declare: “God’s perfect plan of bodily perfection is bearing fruit, and I am made whole.”
4th Day, Saturday. Read John 10:1-18.
I am a child of the Father, and my inheritance is from Him. I AM is the Christ within me, the true spiritual being, whom God made in His image and likeness. Through the I AM (the Christ), I link myself with the Father, with Spirit, with life, wisdom, love, peace, strength, power, and Truth.
I AM is the gate through which my thoughts come forth from the invisible, and it is through this gate that I go to get into the presence of Spirit.
The I AM has its being in heaven; its home is in the realm of God ideals. I hitch my I AM to the star of God, and infinite joy follows as night the day.
The I AM always assures me that the preponderance of power is in spiritual things. Fear throws dust in one’s eyes and hides the mighty spiritual forces that are always with one. I deny ignorance and fear, and affirm the presence and power of the I AM. “I AM THAT I AM . . . I AM hath sent me unto you.”
I realize that spiritual character is the rock foundation of being. As I build my consciousness in God-Mind, I find that I am in heaven right here on earth. I let go of the little self and take hold of the big self. “Not my will, but thine, be done.” The I AM is the will in its highest aspect. The will may be said to be the man, because it is the directive power that decides the character formation which makes what is called individuality.
I boldly affirm: “I am a child of God, and I am joint heir with Jesus to abiding life, wisdom, love, peace, substance, strength, and power.”
1st Sunday. Read Matthew 5:21-26.
The altar represents a fixed, definite center in the consciousness of man. It is a place within where we meet the Lord face to face and are willing to give up our sins, give up the lower for the higher, the personal for the impersonal, the animal for the divine.
The altar, mentioned in Revelation 11:1 symbolizes the consciousness of full consecration that takes place in the temple of worship, the body. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.”
The altar to the unknown God is a yearning to know the unrevealed Spirit, and a reaching out of the mind for a fuller realization of its source.
Prayer does not change God–it changes us. Sincere desire is a form of prayer. Deep desire is essential for spiritual growth. It is desire–earnest, intense desire–that draws the whole being up out of mortality and its transient joys into the power to appreciate and receive real spiritual blessings. This is a demonstration, the proving of a Truth principle in one’s body and affairs. It is the manifestation of an ideal when its accomplishment has been brought about by one’s conformity in thought, word, and act, to the creative principle of God.
Kneeling at the altar I take my statement of Truth and hold it steadily in mind until I get my realization, the logic of my mind is satisfied, and there is the lifting up and expanding of soul consciousness.
To this end I affirm: “It is not I, ‘but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.'”
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Keep a True Lent
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