The 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday, going through Holy Week, and ending on the Saturday before Easter is the season of Lent. The six Sundays occurring during Lent are not counted as the 40 days since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
Originating in the 4th century of the Church, the season is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter. Many biblical events are associated with the number 40, but Lent is most commonly connected to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry as he faced the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission.
Christians today use this period of time for meditation, introspection, and repentance. The Church usually marks the season by prayer, fasting, and charitable giving. It is a time for the Church to focus on prayer, penance, and repentance as we acknowledge our need for God’s grace. All of this is a preparation to celebrate Christ’s atonement and resurrection of Easter.
The last week of Lent is Holy Week. During this holiest time of the liturgical year, the Church relives the final week of Christ’s life. On Palm Sunday, believers celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, we revisit the Last Supper, while on Good Friday we recall the passion and crucifixion of the Lord.
Lent is about what Christ gave the world – salvation. The observation of Lent is a way to place ourselves humbly before God as we confess our inadequacies, strip ourselves of pretense, and open our souls before God to receive His grace.
We are part of a continuous line of Christians who have celebrated for 2000 years the One who was born in poverty, lived sinlessly, died on a cross, and rose from the dead. Jesus secured us a place in the Kingdom of God – here and now, and eternally in heaven. He opened wide the doors of kingdom – living in today’s world. He offers peace beyond our dreams, joy beyond our expressions, wisdom beyond our understanding and accomplishments beyond our abilities.
Lent gives us 40 days to prepare for a joyous Easter response to grace.
- Ash Wednesday is Today’s Religious Topic of the Day (02/08/15) (poetsareangels.com)
- Fox Chapel United Methodist pastors to hit Sharpsburg streets on Ash Wednesday (triblive.com)