Lent is the 46 day period before Easter: 6 Sundays of celebration amidst 40 days of fasting. During the Lenten season we are called to focus on Christ’s ministry and to spend extra time in prayer, repentance, self-sacrifice, and doing good works with a focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is typical during this time for people to fast some element of food. In the early days of church history, the community of God was asked to fast two meals per day. Meal preparation and consumption took a lot of time, so clearing these away provided extra time for the focal points of Lent. The forty days of fasting reflects Jesus’ forty days of fasting and the testing he experienced in the wilderness.
Three important lessons came out of Jesus’ testing, and these may be helpful to us as we participate in the Lenten season. The first is that all sustaining life comes from God and His word. The second is that God is trustworthy and will not abandon us. The third is that evil cannot be defeated by any compromise; we must humbly worship God alone.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This day is often observed by a service which involves a priest placing a cross of ash on the forehead of each person, saying, “From dust you came and to dust you will return.” It is a solemn event intended to convey the seriousness of the process which it commences.