Lent is right around the corner…got questions? We have answers to some common questions.
What is Lent?
Put simply, Lent is the period of time leading up to Easter.
This 40-day period is a time of solemn observance, repentance, and preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Just as we carefully prepare for events in our personal lives, Lent invites us to make our minds and hearts ready for the remembering of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Why is This Period 40 Days?
But why is Lent 40 days? The number 40 has ancient biblical significance – 40 days of rain in Noah’s flood, the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the desert, and the 40 days of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. With these examples, we can see that 40 is indicative of a time of testing, trial, and penance.
If you do the math, you may also find out that Lent actually begins 46 days before Easter, not 40. What gives? That’s because the Sundays during this time are not included.
Why Does Easter’s Date Change Each Year?
Another common question about days and dates – why does the date of Easter change every year? It’s not a fixed holiday like Christmas and can fall anywhere from March 22 and April 25. That’s because Easter Sunday always occurs on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Some churches offer the option of receiving ashes on your forehead, usually marked in the shape of a cross, while being told the words of Genesis 3:19: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is a reminder of our own mortality and sin but also indicates hope of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What is Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday during Holy Week, the last Thursday before Easter Sunday, and commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
The term “Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum,” meaning “to order” or “command.” This refers to the new commandment Jesus taught his disciples after the Last Supper – “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Why is it Called “Good Friday?”
Good Friday is the Friday during Holy Week, the last Friday before Easter Sunday. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This can lead to confusion – why is this day “good” when it’s the day Jesus died? That’s because, on this day, Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He became the final, complete sacrifice for our sins, which is the ultimate act of love and redemption.
Why is Purple the Color of Lent?
You may notice the color purple often being used in this period of preparation…why? Purple, like black, is a penitential color. The 40 days in this period use this deep, rich color, which has come to represent somberness, solemnity, penitence, and prayer.
Purple was a very cherished and expensive color in the time Jesus lived. That’s because the dye used was painstakingly acquired, therefor this color fabric was only afforded by the rich and worn exclusively by royalty. Jesus wore a purple robe only once. As the soldiers mocked and tormented Him, the Scriptures recorded they placed on Him a “purple garment” in order to ridicule and belittle Him. Now, purple is used during this period as a vivid reminder of the contempt and scorn He endured and the subsequent sacrifice He made for our eternal salvation.
Do You Have to Give Up Something for Lent?
While many know Lent as a time of giving something up, you may wonder if you need to. At the end of the day, it is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. There’s no “law” requiring you to give something up during this period since the Scriptures themselves do not require this.
If you want to give up something as a way of remembering and personalizing the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins, you are free to do so, so long as you don’t judge others for not choosing to do this.
Come Visit Christ Lutheran Church
We hope we have answered some of your questions surrounding Lent. If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
During this special period of reflection on Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we invite you to visit us in Montrose, Colorado, for one of our Lenten services. You’re also always invited to join us for Sunday worship service – We teach the Bible as God’s unchanging Word and Jesus’ salvation is the focus. God bless you as you pray to Him and praise Him!