Lent began on Wednesday, February 26 and ends on Thursday, April 9. The word “Lent” means…
“Spring” or “lengthen.” It refers to that time of the year after winter when days become longer, and new life begins to burst forth everywhere-the time when robins appear and crocuses bloom.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It begins with gloom, but ends with a mighty, world-shaking BOOM on Easter!
Originating in the fourth century, Lent spans 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. Since every Sunday celebrates Christ’s resurrection, the 6 Sundays occurring during Lent are not counted as part of the 4O days of Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry by facing and overcoming temptation (Mt. 4:11).
Although our church does not mandate it, Christians should use this period as a time for introspection, self-examination,and repentance. It is a season for penitential prayer and fasting. Many people observe Lent by purposefully giving up certain things during these 40 days, such as meat, sweets, and other types of food. It is also a time for focusing on charitable deeds, helping needy people with gifts of food or clothing, or simply the giving of money to compassionate ministries, such as this church’s “Special Assistance Fund.”
Of course, in the doing of such good deeds, one should remember our Lord’s admonition: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen…Whenever you give alms, do not sounds a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others” (Mt.6:1-2, NRSV).
The colors used in the sanctuary during Lent are usually some shade of purple. Purple symbolizes the pain and suffering of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion as well as the suffering of humanity under sin. Purple is also the color of royalty, and thus anticipates through the suffering and death of Jesus the coming resurrection and hope of newness of life that will be celebrated on Easter Sunday. It is because of Easter that Jesus is not only our prophet and priest but also our king who reigns upon the throne forever.
-Dr. Rob L. Staples