The 25th day of the lent which is always a Wednessday is known as mid lent. This is one of the very few days during the great lent when the Holy Qurbana is celeberated on a weekday other than Sunday or Saturday. On this day there is a procession around the church carrying the cross. This is followed by an exhaltation of the cross (sleeba aaghosham) facing the four directions; East , West , North and South. Then the cross is placed on a big decorated cross like stand covered with a red cloth (Gogultha) in the middle of the the church. This remains in the church till the Feast of Assension of our Lord which occurs 40 days after the Kyomtha (Feast of the Resurrection ie Easter).
This exaltation of the cross has a direct link to the Gospel reading from the Holy Qurbana of Mid Lent. John 3: 14-15 says "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Moses lifted up the bronze serpent around the middle of the Exodus, the journey of the Israelites from slavery to their promised land. He lifted up the serpent so that those who are bitten by the snake might look at it and have life. Similarly we at the middle of our lenten journey, also lift up the cross so that those who are bitten by sin can look at it and gain eternal life by the cross.
On mid lent Wednessday, the church also comemorates King Abgar. King Abgar, a contemporary of our Lord, was believed to have corresponded with Him. During the public ministry of our Lord, King Abgar of Edessa (Oraha) who was suffering from an incurable disease, sent a letter reiterating his belief in the Lord and requesting Him to visit Edessa so that he could get cured. He also extended an invitation to the Lord to live there as he had heard about the squabbles of the Jews. Jesus replied that He was unable to visit at that time, but ensured that He would send one of His disciples. King Abgar is one of the very first who believed in Jesus without seeing Him and without doubting – considered by the church as a saint. After the ascension of the Saviour, as instructed by the Lord, St. Thaddeus one of the Seventy disciples was sent to King Abgar. The king and his subjects became Christians. Edessa thus became the first Christian country.
Click here to read more about St.Thaddeus and King Abgar.
Click here to read the letter correspondence between King Abgar and our Lord Jesus Christ.
On this day the Syriac Orthodox Church also commemorates the memory of the martyrdom of Deacon Habib of Edessa. Here is a link to the English translation of ancient Syriac documents about the martyrdom of Deacon Habib in AD 309.
Before Holy Qurbana
Essays and Articles
Kurishinte Mahatwavumayi Paathinoombu - Article from Manorama
Hymn sung during the procession: