Believe it or not, but I’ve heard this question asked many times.
Lent begins Ash Wednesday (this year it’s March 1, 2017), and lasts 40 days, not counting Sundays. This is a time to reflect in prayer and fasting and to be closer to God. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.”
Mardi Gras? What does that have to do with JESUS?? Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday.” It refers to the day before Lent starts. Since Lent always starts on a Wednesday, the day before is always a Tuesday. And it’s called “Fat” or “Great” because it’s associated with great food and parties.
In earlier times, people used Lent as a time of fasting and repentance. Since they didn’t want to be tempted by sweets, meat and other distractions in the house, they cleaned out their cabinets. They used up all the sugar and yeast in sweet breads before the Lent season started, and fixed meals with all the meat available. It was a great feast! Through the years Mardi Gras has evolved (in some places) into a pretty wild party with little to do with preparing for the Lenten season of repentance and simplicity. Oh well. But Christians still know its origin, and hang onto the true Spirit of the season.
In Ash Wednesday services, a cross is marked with ashed on a persons forehead in the sign of a cross. The ashes mark a sign of repentance and mortality, the cross, resurrection and forgiveness. The ashes come from the previous years palms we use to celebrate Palm Sunday, that are burned.
Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart.
You can also get more information on Lent on The Upper Room website. You can also get a free copy of The Upper Room in the from of our Sanctuary before services on Sunday mornings.
Been meaning to come back to church???
Lent is the perfect time to start. We welcome all no matter your faith or denominational background, race, age, sexual orientation, abilities, political views, or imperfections. Our services start Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Coffee hour follows church services.