Lent (Latin Quadragesima – English: Fortieth) is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). In 2014 Lent began on March 5th.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry where he endured temptation by the devil
Lent ends at Easter when Christians remember the execution of Jesus and then celebrate his rising from death.
The last week of Lent begins with Palm Sunday, which celebrates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people lay down palms at his feet. The last day of Lent is Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday (Easter Day)
In the Roman Catholic Church, Lent officially ends at sundown on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), with the beginning of the mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.
Not all Christian churches observe Lent. Lent is mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday (called Clean Monday) and Ash Wednesday is not observed.
Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence – which shows very much its traditional source being the catholic church.
The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21
Do I celebrate Lent?
No I don’t. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to celebrate as long as you celebrate it from a heart that is there to honor the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. During the little bit of reading I was doing on Lent this morning, I came across these two statements on different websites.
Lent is a time when some Christians try to overcome their own faults because they believe that it was man’s sin which led Jesus to be crucified.
During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence.
This is where you lose me on Lent. I am all for honouring Christ and thanking him for the work of the cross, I am a fan of fasting and bringing the flesh into subjection to the spirit, I am all for turning my back on different little luxuries for a season to focus more on seeking God, but if Lent is about trying to “overcome my own faults” or “a form of penitence” then it’s a waste of time and a works program. In fact by doing this in this spirit you are devaluing the work of the cross. Jesus died because I was incapable of overcoming my own faults or paying penitence for my sins. I was weak and Christ was strong. He took my sin and gave me His righteousness. I can’t earn it, I can’t pay for it – all I can do is honour the cross and yield my life to his plans and purposes – and I don’t want to do that just for 40 days before Easter but every day of my life. I am not being critical of people who do celebrate it – providing they are doing it with the right heart and motive.