This evening, the Eastern church begins its annual Lenten fast with the vespers service of Forgiveness Sunday. Before we spend the next 40 days in the repentance of our sins, we prepare ourselves by asking forgiveness not only of Christ and of the priests, but of everyone in our church whether or not we have knowingly offended them. It allows us to put an end to any chance animosity we might bear toward one another and to commence the fast in a proper state of humility and peace.

You’ll notice that participants prostrate themselves before each other, acknowledging the real presence of Christ within all:

In the Western church, this Sunday  is known as Quinquagesima Sunday, Quinquagesimae, Estomihi, Shrove Sunday, [and] the Last Sunday after Epiphany (citation). Bach wrote the following music in its honor:

Bach Cantata BWV 127 “Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen

Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen,
My soul rests in the hands of Jesus,

Wenn Erde diesen Leib bedeckt.
Though earth covers this body

Ach ruft mich bald, ihr Sterbeglocken,
Ah, call me soon, you funereal bells,

Ich bin zum Sterben unerschrocken,
I am not terrified to die

Weil mich mein Jesus wieder weckt.
Since my Jesus will awaken me again.

Recital at Indiana School of Music (1990)
Brian Madsen Oboe, Diana Livingston soprano