What is Lent and how do we recognize it?
According to our constitution, Lent is “a season of spiritual discipline and preparation, beginning with Ash Wednesday, anticipating the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ”. It is a period of 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday— much like Jesus’ time of testing in the wilderness. The Sundays in Lent are not counted in this reckoning, as every Lord’s Day is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In many ways, the season of Lent can be thought of as a “spiritual spring cleaning.”
We use the season of Lent to prepare our hearts and minds for the mystery of the resurrection. But we all do that differently. Some churches place ashes on the foreheads of worshipers on Ash Wednesday; others don’t. Many Christians emphasize giving something up for Lent. Historically, they fasted, giving up food. Nowadays, people give up many things for Lent intentionally recalling and remembering what Christ gave up for us. Others emphasize the season as a time to add to or enhance our practice of the faith. For instance, they ‘take on’ spiritual disciplines such as more regular participation in worship, more consistent reading of scripture, greater concentration on praying every day, or more devoted focus on serving or giving to others. We give things up or take on practices because we need to learn again and again that we live and move and breathe and have our being in God.
The season of Lent draws us to focus on Jesus Christ, who was born, lived and was crucified—and then raised from the dead—for us and for our salvation.
So, the fruitful question to ask might be: How will you live into Lent this year?
The Way to Shalom
A Lenten Journey to Peace and Wholeness
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202