Christ’s last words to be discussed during Lenten programs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

At least one number is often associated with the Christian season of Lent, to take place this year from Feb. 14-Mar. 31,

That number is seven.

It refers to Jesus Christ’s last utterances on the cross before his agonizing death.

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The Lenten season of 40 days of self-denial and introspection leading up to Easter and Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is closely connected with the number seven.

The number figures prominently in a series of free instructional programs called “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” which I will present on six Wednesday evenings during Lent, Feb. 21 through March 28.

The number seven is pervasive and powerful world-wide, whether used in religious or secular activities. It is associated with the seven days in a week, seven colors in a rainbow, seven notes to the diatonic musical scale.

Seven is also an important number in Christianity.

Three examples are:

  • God spent six days creating Heaven and Earth and rested the seventh day.
  • There are seven parables in the New Testament Book of Matthew.
  • The number seven in the Holy Bible is used more than 700 times.

The programs about the seven last words or phrases are actually a traditional collection uttered by Jesus at His crucifixion on the day we call Good Friday. They are gathered from the four Gospels in the New Testament:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Reflection upon these words of Jesus — His dying words — is pertinent to our celebration of the season of Lent.

These phrases are some of the most memorable ones in the Bible. They are:

  • Father, forgive them.
  • Today you will be with me in Paradise.
  • Behold your son; behold your mother.
  • My God, why have you forsaken me?
  • I thirst.
  • I am finished.

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Each of the six sessions, focusing on one of the utterances of Jesus, will contain background and study of the scripture, a meditation to ground the saying in the present and the life of the listener and prayer.

Each session will be preceded by the usual weekly Wednesday healing service at 5:30 p.m. at Trinity Church. The service will be followed by a free, light supper in Kuehnle Hall.

Members of Trinity and the general public are invited to the healing service and supper. If they can’t attend those, they are invited to attend just the Lenten presentations.

The presentations will begin about 6:30 p.m. in Kuehnle Hall at Trinity Church on Feb. 21, Feb. 28, March 7, March 14, March 21 and March 28. Easter this year falls on April 1.

In addition to the Lenten study sessions, during this year’s Lenten season, Stations of the Cross will be set up at Trinity Church. Free, self-guided handouts will facilitate the use of the stations for prayer and meditation.

We invite everyone to Trinity Church for study, reflection, prayer and healing during the very important season of Lent.

We must ready ourselves properly for the incredible gift of Jesus Christ’s resurrection at Easter.
The Rev. Kenneth Ritter is the priest in charge at Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez.