Welcome to Lent.
This is the Christian season of repentance and renewal.
The season of Lent is forty days, which is the number of days the Gospel stories tell us that Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. The number forty is significant elsewhere in the Bible. It is the number of years the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. It is the number of days Noah spent on the ark.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday when many Christians around the world attend an Ash Wednesday service. There they are marked with the sign of the cross on their foreheads in ash. This is a sign of our humility, mortality, and desire for repentance and renewal in God.
During the forty days of Lent, Christians engage more intentionally in the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and giving as a way to prepare for the joy and love of Easter.
Christians pray during Lent to grow closer to God. During prayer we reflect on our lives before our loving God and engage in honest self-examination, noting where we have fallen short of God’s desire for our lives. During prayer we ask for forgiveness and the guidance to continue refreshed and renewed in God’s love. Prayer also includes intercessions. That is, we pray for others with the intent of sharing God’s love with all people.
Christians fast during Lent to remind us of our reliance upon God, to remember those in need, and to remember Jesus’ temptation and sacrifice for us. Some Christians give up a food during Lent. Some Christians choose to fast from a destructive or hurtful behavior or attitude, thus changing their hearts and reorienting their lives to be a more loving and faithful disciple of Christ. Some Christians choose not to fast in the traditional sense, but instead take on an additional and intentional discipline or activity that focuses their time and energy on loving others as God loves us.
Christians give during Lent as a reminder of God’s generosity to all of us. All things come from God and we are called to share with those among us who are less fortunate. By giving, we follow the command and the example of Jesus to care for our sisters and brothers in this world. By giving, we remember that Jesus gave of his very own life that we might have life in abundance. We give of our money, our time, and our talents.
Lent is the season where we focus our attention on improving our spiritual well-being by engaging in the spiritual practices of praying, fasting, and giving. Through these practices, we can become more mindful of God, others, and ourselves. In this way we grow closer to God, catching a glimpse of how God is working in our lives and in this world.
Welcome to Lent, a time of intention that brings us to Easter joy!