“Did You Know?”
Almost every year I spend a full class discussing the church seasons with my catechism students. They always appear interested and a bit surprised that the church has seasons that are not Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter. Instead we talk about Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Pentecost is the longest season of the church year and Christmas is the shortest. Each of the seasons has a particular theme and focus. On March 1st this year we will enter the church season of Lent as we gather for worship on Ash Wednesday. With that in mind, I was wondering “did you know” the following about the Lenten season?
• The season of Lent is a time of prayer, penance, sacrifice, reflection upon our Baptism and preparation for the season of Easter. The word for Lent, Lencten, means Spring, and most of Lent always takes place during the month of March.
• During Lent many people will commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance. Have you ever been asked “What did you give up for Lent?” The purpose of this ‘sacrifice’ is to help us focus on the gift of God as we draw closer to God.
• The Lenten season was being observed before the Council of Nicea met in 325 A.D.
• While we understand Lent is 40 days long, this was not always the length of the season. If you’re wondering how it is possible to have the Lenten season last 40 days when it begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, it’s a good question. The answer: Sundays during Lent do not count as they are always celebrations of the resurrection.
• The number 40 has many important biblical references. Chief among those references are: Moses spent 40 days on Mt Sinai with God (Ex. 24:18), Elijah spent 40 days and nights walking to Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8), the Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before entering the promised land (Numbers 14:33), and Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and being tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:1-2; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-2). So today we spend 40 days in preparing ourselves for the celebration of Easter.
• The liturgical color for Lent is purple, suggesting somberness and solemnity.
• The practice of fasting during Lent is not to be defined in the terms we sometimes think of when we refer to fasting. The Lenten Fast intends to help us do a better job of focusing on God. Fasting could include doing without a particular food (candy or chocolate) for the season or it could be to do without a particular activity (TV or internet). Being deprived of something often helps us focus on more important aspects of our faith and life.
While I don’t know what your Lenten practice will be this season, I encourage you to participate in some way that will help you focus on God and the gift of His Son. During this season we will be making a journey of reflection in the hopes of preparing ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday. I encourage you to worship, pray, reflect, study, and fast as you use the disciplines of Lent to draw closer to God. Let’s journey together to the cross and beyond as we encounter an empty tomb and the risen Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Butler +