What is Lent?

Detail of “The Battle between Carnival and Lent” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Public Domain.

Just the Facts:
1) Lent is a season of the Christian Year in which believers enter into intentional spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. This preparation often includes one or more of the following spiritual disciplines: self-examination and repentance, prayer, fasting and self-denial, acts of generosity and service, reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

2) Lent is 40 weekdays long (Mondays through Saturdays), beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on the eve of Easter. Sundays are not included in the count of 40 days, as Sundays in the Christian Year are always “little Easter” celebrations.

3) The season of Lent takes place at a different time every year because the date of Easter is different every year. Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter may occur anywhere between March 22 and April 25.

Classic Lenten Scriptures:
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness- Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Lent. It’s the preparing the heart for Easter. Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy. Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice… Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation. We renounce to be reborn; we let go to become ‘little Christs’. It’s about this: We break away to become.
- Ann Voskamp, Why You May Really [Really] Need Lent this Year

Lent is symbolic both of the forty days Jesus spent being tempted in the desert and of the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness. It is meant to be a season of soul searching and repentance for followers of Christ to prepare for the joy and celebration of Easter. Most of us see Lent as a season for giving up trivial things like chocolate or TV. Some of us attend the traditional soup suppers and Lenten Bible studies. Others indulge in a frenzy of spring cleaning, also a symbol of this season as we are encouraged to clean house both inside and out. For most of us however the impact of Lent is as short term as the spring cleaning we indulge in. There is little if any permanent change. Lent should be far more than a cursory spring cleaning exercise.
- Christine Sine
Consider reading the rest of her blog post, Journey into the Freedom of Lent

Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. So we must be reconciled with God. - Henri Nouwen

There is no justification without sanctification,
no forgiveness without renewal of life,
no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.
- Martin Luther

The goal of Lent is not to make a plan for change and follow it to the letter. Rather, the goal is to make a change that sinks deeply into life, drawing us closer to self, others, and God. Lent is about intentionally opening ourselves, preparing to receive God’s goodness. - Sarah Parsons, A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent

We journey with Jesus through the desert of Lent but it’s almost as though we have to clear through a whole lot of brush to even get to desert. Lent is about hacking through self-delusion and false promises. Lent is about looking at our lives in as bright a light as possible, the light of Christ, to illumine that which moth and rust can consume and which thieves can steal. It is during this time of self-reflection and sacrificial giving and prayer that we make our way through the over grown and tangled mess of our lives. We trudge through the lies of our death-denying culture to seek the simple weighty truth of who we really are. – Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Sarcastic Lutheran

As we cross the threshold into Lent, we will hear the words of the prophet Joel as he tells us, “Rend your hearts.” We can choose to do this, to turn toward God, because God has already opened God’s own heart to us. God keeps letting God’s heart break for us. Keeps choosing to become bound to us. To become entangled with us. To covenant with us and with creation and with those who will come after us. Keeps taking our side even when we have wandered into the far country, bent on a path of our own stubborn choosing. In this season God asks us, invites us, dares us to let ourselves be claimed. - Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook Blog

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If you live in central Florida, you are very welcome to join us at Community United Methodist Church in DeBary for our many Lenten services and events.
- Lisa <><

One thought on “What is Lent?

  1. There was some info in here that I had never known before, and have been to a fair amount of Lenten Services. Thanks! Just the facts need to be reiterated sometimes!

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