What is Lent?

Published March 3, 2014 in 

“The Christian year celebrates the three major events in the life and death of Jesus Christ (incarnation, resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit) within the two part structure of the lunar and solar cycles of the calendar year.

“While the celebration of the Christian year can be seen as a simple reenactment of historical events, a more accurate understanding is that the year is the continual unfolding of the life of Jesus Christ in time. Thus, the ongoing eucharistic celebration of the Christian year is a daily witness to the light of Christ in the world.”

– The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Ed. Katharine Doob Sakenfeld. Nashville: Abingdon, 2008.

Lent is the 40 day preparatory season of Easter beginning with Ash Wednesday, March 5, and ending on Holy Saturday, April 19. (Sundays are not days of the season of Lent, because Sundays are always a celebration of the resurrection.) The 40 days are an imitation of the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness after He was baptized. The historical purpose in observing Lent in the church was to prepare for receiving the Spirit in one’s life, although an outward observance of denying oneself food was a way to free up money to give to the poor. The more central purpose has become to prepare the faithful for the celebration of Easter.

The lenten season is characterized by prayer, fasting, self-examination, and repentance. Bishop Mike McKee has invited the United Methodists of the North Texas Conference to join him in a lenten discipline of fasting one meal a week beginning March 5 and to donate the cost of that meal to the North Texas Conference Zip Code Project. This project aims to eradicate poverty in zip codes 75426 and 75214 by 2025. He is hoping that 10,000 United Methodists will join. 

I plan to join the Bishop in this fast, and I am praying that many of you will too. There will be cards in your bulletin that you can sign and place in the offering plate if you wish to be a part of this spiritual discipline.

On our lenten journey to Easter, let’s deny ourselves as a way to express our love to the poor in our midst. Are you willing?

Lenten blessings,

Doug

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