The family went to church this Sunday. Just for the record, we go to church every Sunday (plus or minus a few soccer/basketball games) so don't think this is me "fronting" for Easter. The handout in our bulletin contained wonderful information regarding Lent:
Why 40 days? Because, Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. Lent, then, is our time of fasting, prayer, temptation and repentance. Lent is not required anywhere in the scriptures, but it has been a custom, which Christians have practiced for most of the last two thousand years.
In many languages, the word "Lent" actually means "fast". This is where the custom of giving up something for Lent originated.
Just to confuse things, Lent is actually 46 days rather than 40 days. Why? Because the 40 days of Lent are supposed to be days of fasting, which means self discipline and self-restraint. But Sunday, the Lord's Day, should never be a day of fasting, but a day of celebration! So each Sunday we suspend our Lenten disciplines and celebrate. Lent is 40 "fasting" days spread out over a total of 46 days beginning on Ash Wednesday.
The focus of Lent was always threefold:
- It was a time to prepare new converts for baptism through intensive classes and instruction.
- It was a time for long-standing Christians to review their lives and renew their commitment to Jesus Christ.
- It was a time for backsliders to be restored to the faith.
To represent the dark and serious business of Lent, one custom has been to strip the sanctuary of all flowers, candles, and colors during Lent. This custom helps us to turn inward and examine ourselves, even as it reminds us of the dark and colorless Sabbath Day when Jesus lay dead in the tomb. Put simply, Lent is a time to examine ourselves carefully.
And you thought Lent was created just to make you give up chocolate huh?
Let me know what/if you're sacrificing for Lent.