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What is Lent?

 

Celebrating the season of Lent is one of the oldest practices of the Christian church. It was originally a time for new believers to prepare themselves for their baptisms, which were done on Easter Sunday. But it soon grew to be a time for all believers to prepare themselves for Easter by examining their hearts and lives, and repenting of their sin. The word “lent” means “springtime,” which is symbolic of the passage from death to life that we make when we die to self that we might be raised with Christ. Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday and goes through Easter Sunday (March 1-April 16, this year). The forty days of Lent are symbolic of the forty days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert, the forty years that Moses and Israelites wandered in the desert, and the forty days that Noah and his family waited in the ark for the rain to cease. The six Sundays in Lent are not included in the forty days, because they are a Sabbath rest from the time of preparation.

During Lent, Christians through the ages have used fasting, prayer, and the practice of giving up something for Lent to examine themselves and draw near to the Lord. While giving up a favorite food or habit for Lent can be a helpful practice of sacrifice, consider how the time or money saved can be spent drawing near to God or caring for our neighbor. Our Lenten sermon series this year calls us to return to God through Malachi’s words to a complacent Israel. In our worship, we’ll be exploring Lenten themes, singing songs of confession, and incorporating more moments of silence as we wait on the Lord. Lent is not a gloomy time--even as we are called to examine ourselves and face our sin, we are reminded that we serve a God of mercy who calls us to return to him!