As the season of Lent dawns on Ash Wednesday, falling on 14th February 2024, Bradford Cathedral gears up for a series of special services and events to mark the occasion. The Cathedral invites all to participate in a Choral Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes at 7pm, in addition to the regular Wednesday morning services at 8:15am and 10:15am.

A noteworthy highlight of this Lenten period is the Riding Lights Theatre Company’s revival of their acclaimed Passion Play, “The Narrow Road” by Paul Birch. This dramatic recreation of the final days of Jesus Christ will grace the Cathedral on 28th February at 7:30pm. Tickets for the performance are available on Ticket Source or via the Bradford Cathedral website.

Special events throughout Lent include a retreat morning with Bishop Toby on 17th February at 10am, the World Day of Prayer service on 1st March at 2pm, and a Prayer Vigil for International Peace at 6pm on the same day.

The observance of Ash Wednesday itself takes its name from the use of ashes, an ancient symbol of penitence. The practice of being marked with ashes in the shape of a cross dates back to the Middle Ages.

Lent, a 40-day period commencing on Ash Wednesday, mirrors Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. It serves as a time of study and devotion for Christians, often focusing on aspects of discipleship such as prayer, fasting, study, or service. Historically, new Christians prepared for baptism during Lent, culminating in their entry into the Church at Easter.

The Revd Pete Gunstone, Minor Canon for Worship and Nurture, says; “Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, with an opportunity to embrace both our finitude and the mercy and power of God. We hope you can join us for our reflective worship at the start of Lent.”

The Church of England’s central theme for Lent this year is ‘Watch + Pray’.

“This Lent we are encouraged to wait expectantly for God to meet us and sustain us through the storms and trials we all face.

“The Church of England’s Lent theme for 2024 is Watch and Pray: Wisdom and hope for Lent and life.

“This Lent all of us are encouraged to draw on the wisdom of Black Spirituality, particularly the practice of “tarrying” (waiting) as a community to draw closer to Jesus and to each other.”

The Very Revd Andy Bowerman, Dean of Bradford, says; “We would be delighted to invite you to join us in drawing closer to Jesus and each other this season. You will be sure of a generous and warm welcome.”

As the Lenten season unfolds, Bradford Cathedral will continue to offer services and events during Holy Week. For more details and information about Lent at Bradford Cathedral, please visit bradfordcathedral.org.uk/lent.