LENT(Old English for Spring) is a 40-day period (before Easter, excluding Sundays) of fasting and repentance culminating in the celebration of Holy Week. LENT began by early Christians in an effort to identify with biblical 40 day periods of trial and fasting(Genesis 7:12, Exodus 34:28, Numbers 13:25, Numbers 14:34, 1 Samuel 17:16, 1 Kings 19:8, Luke 4:2, Acts 1:3)leading up to Easter. The Lenten season beacons us to deepen our understanding and appreciation for the abundant grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ's saving work on the cross.
MARDI GRAS Pre-Lenten celebrations (Carnival, Festival)culminate with FAT TUESDAY(Mardi Gras in French or Shrove Tuesday)the day before Ash Wednesday. Since Christians have often chosen or been taught to fast from all sweet food during Lent, including milk, eggs, and meat, the traditional dinner on this night is pancakes to use up their milk and eggs and syrup so there won't be any of the tempting stuff around during Lent. Many have mutated this season as an excuse for indulgence before the fast. It is often looked on as one last “binge” before having to give something up for 40 days. These celebrations foster the unscriptural notion that you can do whatever you want on Fat Tuesday, as long as you show up in church on Ash Wednesday.
ASH WEDNESDAYbegins the Lenten season and is six and a half weeks before Easter every year. Ash Wednesday isthe tradition (not a requirement)of putting ashes on the forehead in the form of a cross as a sign of humility and recognition of our own sin (the ashes usually come from the dried and burned palms from Palm Sunday the year before).
"From dust you came, and to dust you shall return. Turn from your sin and receive the good news." By reminding ourselves of our need and willfully submitting to Christ's authority, we prepare our heart to celebrate Easter with a renewed sense of joy and amazement!
Many equate LENT with SELF DENIALand give up something enjoyable (like meat or chocolate or movies)for the 40 days as a way of focusing more intently on the meaning of the season. While there is certainly nothing wrong with preparing for Easter through some form of self-denial or intentional good works, it is important to realize that these will not win us God's favor, earn special blessing, or increase His love for us. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is! If you plan to give up something, please make sure to use the margin created to grow in love and appreciation with Christ.
Remember the Lenten season is about preparing the heart; so, if you plan to give up something, then make plans to REPLACE it with something that would turn your heart more toward Christ! Maybe take the challenge to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), memorize certain scriptures, or read the Purpose Driven Life daily devotional book during Lent. (free YouVersion Bible App for reading plans & FighterVerse App for scripture memory)
FISH Catholic traditions often practice various acts of penitence and spiritual self-discipline during Lent. One of those disciplines is a fast that requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. The rule is based on the authority of the Church, not on the authority of Scripture. The stated reason for Catholics not being allowed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent is to remind the faithful that Jesus died on a Friday. Jesus gave up His body (His flesh), and Catholics, in an effort to attain greater communion with Christ, refrain from consuming flesh.
EASTER Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ on the third day after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based(1 Corinthians 15:3-4,14). The four Gospels make it clear that Jesus was crucified in conjunction with the Jewish Passover (Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-15; John 18:28,39; 19:14). The four Gospels also make it clear that Jesus was raised from the dead three days later, on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19). Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Whether we call it “Easter” or “Resurrection Sunday,” what is important is the reason for our celebration, which is that Christ is alive, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!
GOSPEL STORY[BAD NEWS]Since SIN is any thought, attitude, word, or action that falls short of God’s perfect, holy standard and deserves punishment, we are separated from the Source of LIFE and we ALL desperately need RESCUED! [GOOD NEWS]Love motivated Jesus Christ to step out of heaven and sacrificially give His innocent life on a bloody cross for the just punishment of our sin and also conquer sin’s penalty (death) by victoriously rising from the grave! [Romans 10:9-10][Ephesians 2:8-9]To reject this Gospel story is to condemn your self to death. To receive this Gospel story for your own is embracing LIFE!
FMI – Questions – Share a Decision: email@example.com