Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The When and Why of Lent


The When and Why of Lent

Big Idea: An explanation regarding when Lent is, why it is on a different day every year and the real purpose behind Lent.

Easter Must be Coming Up

Remember those plastic beige “Hot Lunch” trays in elementary school? My favorite meal was Chicken a la King! How about you?

Looking back I am pretty sure Fridays during Lent featured fish patties or fish sticks. But at the time this little elementary school girl was unaware. My church tradition never mentioned Lent.

But we pulled out the stops on Easter morning!

When is Lent?

Lent starts about six weeks before Easter Sunday. Precisely, forty-six days. It starts on what is referred to as Ash Wednesday, and finishes right before Good Friday on the cusp of the Crucifixion.

This year Lent is from February 22 to April 6, 2023. Easter Sunday is April 9, 2023.

Why is Easter on a different date every year?

Easter coincides with the Jewish calendar and Passover. It is based on the Pascal Moon. Jesus was crucified in sync with the Passover Feast, so the church calendar follows that too.

Who came up with this?

The Early Church (only a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion) started following a period of fasting before Easter.

If you’ve recited the Nicene Creed in your church, it was at that Council of Nicea in 325 AD (a worldwide church council) that adopted that there be forty days of fasting before Easter as a spiritual discipline.

It’s been seen as worthwhile for a LONG, long time as a means to prepare one’s heart annually to ponder the significance of the Crucifixion/Resurrection.

What’s up with 40 days?

The word Lent, is quadragisima or fortieth, in Latin. Forty days of preparation is a repeated theme multiple times in the Bible.

Moses was on the mountain forty days to pray and fast before receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:28). Elijah fasted and prayed forty days before meeting with God on the mountain (I Kings 19:8-9).

Jesus fasted and prayed forty days in the wilderness too, to prepare for ministry.

Sunday is not usually counted in the forty days of Lent.

What is the purpose of Lent?

My husband and I love to travel. I start getting ready for a big trip at least a week or more out, making packing lists, shutting off the mail, buying what we might need, double checking travel itineraries…

Preparation is the purpose. These weeks before Easter are like getting ready for a big trip or event. 

We get ready spiritually to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Heart preparation should be as important, or even more important, than preparing Easter baskets for the kids and arranging an Easter Brunch.

Check your attitude

We check our attitude. We review our mindset and behavior. We ask God for forgiveness. We think about God and Scripture. Scripture, prayer and meditation assists us to evaluate our attitude, mindset and behavior.

We reflect on all God has done for us. As we think of Jesus’ attitude of self sacrifice, we too should reflect on opening our heart to others with a servant attitude.

Moving forward this month

I have adapted a Lent calendar for reflection from the Billy Graham Library. I have a word a day that I think about, reflect on and pray about during the forty days. It is pretty simple. Consider following it and singing, or looking up verses in a a Bible search for word of the day in the Bible. To download and save, right click and follow saving instructions

40 day Lent Calendar 2023

Blog schedule for the month of March.

Holy week: 'Twas the night before Easter


Up next: Giving up something for Lent and eating fish on Fridays
Previous post: Five Astonishing Qualitites of Agape Love


1. If I had asked you a week ago "what is Lent,"? what would you have said? Does this blog post give you a better understanding?

2. Why might the Lent period be helpful to any Christian? How might it be helpful to you?


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