By Chris Blevins
No doubt many readers have heard or read the word “Lent” or “Lenten” over the last few years and have wondered exactly what it is, what is its origin and how do I learn more. We will be visiting various facts regarding Lent today. Also know there are some variances between the Catholic and Protestant churches regarding Lent which cannot be covered in the time and space of Strength for the Moment.
The season of “Lent” began Wednesday, February 10, 2016, also known as Ash Wednesday. The Lenten season lasts for most observers until the Thursday directly before Good Friday or Resurrection Sunday better known as Easter Sunday. It is the season before Easter lasting forty six days, with forty days of fasting or abstaining from pleasurable actions. The fasting or abstinence can be eating only one meal daily, eating no meals at all, not watching television, staying away from computers, etc…. The fast is observed Monday through Saturday excluding Sundays. Sundays are the Sabbath and those days are celebrated with a feast keeping in mind that Christ rose from the dead.
Lent is based on the 40 days of fasting that Christ accomplished in the wilderness as read in Matthew and Luke Chapter four. The purpose of Lent allows us to get closer to Christ by sacrificing those things in our lives that may keep us from getting closer to Him. We should use the fasting days wisely and replace what we are sacrificing with prayer, reading of the Bible, doing good works, etc… In essence, the root of the word Lent is Germanic and comes from a root word meaning Spring Cleaning.
As shared above, the Lent season always begins forty six days before Easter on Ash Wednesday. In our area the local Ministerial Association has services every Wednesday starting with Ash Wednesday thru the Wednesday before Easter. Some practices by the Protestant and Catholic Church involves anointing heads with oil as we begin the forty day fast. Some churches keep the palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) and burn them and have them sprinkled on their head or forehead sometimes in the shape of a Cross. Ashes are a Biblical symbol of mourning and repentance.
As we draw closer to Resurrection Sunday, keep in mind what Christ accomplished for us on Calvary. The Cross is not only a symbol of sacrifice and suffering, it is a symbol of Hope, Love, Mercy and Grace to all of those that would call upon the name of Jesus Christ.