LENT

INTRODUCTION & HISTORY

February 26 – April 11

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WEEKS 14-19

February 26 – April 11

INTRODUCTION

The season of Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It is commonly associated with self-denial. To people in our culture today, the tradition might seem to be outdated and strange. Even some believers may associate it with hypocrisy and legalism. However, when viewed in the broader context of Jesus’ life and ministry, Lent can be a beautiful reminder of His work in the world on our behalf.

The word Lent is derived from ancient Dutch and simply means “spring season.” It begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days prior to the Saturday before Easter. It is a time of fasting and prayer in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness after His baptism. The final week of Lent is Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday (marking Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem), moving to Maundy Thursday (remembering Jesus’ Last Supper) and culminates with Good Friday (the day Jesus was crucified). The season officially ends at sundown on Saturday night before Easter, when the observance of Passover begins.

This season is marked by repentance and hope, calling Christians to recommit themselves to the Lord and reject sin through the power of the Spirit at work in His people. We symbolically follow Jesus out into the wilderness, and through fasting and prayer, we deny ourselves so that Jesus might be made strong in our weakness and be found sufficient in our need.

ENTER THE STORY

We invite you to participate in the joyous, yet reflective season of Lent. In a world dominated by hedonism, individualism, materialism, selfishness, and greed, Lent reminds us that we have all we need in Jesus. May we embrace John the Baptist’s heart conveyed in John 3:30–that we (and all our worldly wants) would be lesser, and Jesus would be greater! As a church family we want to reject self-gratification and embrace self-denial. We want to follow Jesus’ example in using God’s Word to combat sin and resist temptation by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we live holy lives that are not conformed to the pattern of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds.

We invite you to take part in the personal practice of fasting for the season of Lent. Choose something that will be challenging for you. Let it be something that will turn your focus from yourself and the things of this world to Jesus–His suffering for you, His provision for you, and His love for you. Let every craving be a reminder to turn your gaze to Jesus. You could fast by giving up food or drink, as people often do. This could be only eating one meal a day, giving up specific foods, giving up caffeine, giving up sugar, etc. Other ideas could be to give up social media, TV, makeup, or anything else that occupies your time and thoughts. Take the time you gain back and commit it to devotion to the Lord.

HISTORY & TRADITIONS

Lent has always been influenced by the following celebration of Easter. In the early church, Lent was used as a 40-day preparation period for those wishing to be initiated into the Church through baptism. In the very early church, initiation into the Church was a three-year process of preparation and training. This was due to the persecution of believers in the early Church and the possibility of spies infiltrating their local assemblies. As the three-year process came to a close, the one professing faith in Jesus entered the Lent period. The local church leadership examined their life and understanding of the gospel, and extensive training was done. This culminated in the baptism of the Christian on Easter Sunday.

Traditionally, Lent is symbolically depicted through ever-decreasing light as Christ made His way toward His crucifixion. On Tenebrae Sunday (Palm Sunday), the Church darkens the candles lit at Advent, and the Christ Candle is snuffed out on Good Friday, reminding the Church that the Light of the World was slain for the sins of the world.

POSTURES & SYMBOLS

Prayerful Posture: repentant, sorrowful, contemplative, joyous (on Palm Sunday)

Colors: purple, black, red

Symbols: ash, sackcloth, candles, palm branches, bread, wine, nails, cross, thorns

Flowers and Greenery: none, palms on Palm Sunday only

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