What is the significance of Lent?
Early in the Church's history, the major events in Christ's life were observed with special observances, such as His birth, baptism, death, resurrection and ascension. As these observances developed, a period of time was set aside prior to the major events of Jesus' birth and resurrection as a time of preparation. During Lent, the Church's worship emphasizes sorrow for one's sins. The color for the season is purple, a color often associated with this sorrow for one's sins. The parts of the church's order of worship that are more joyful (words such as "Alleluia") are also omitted during this time. By not using the alleluia - (a joyful expression meaning "Praise the Lord")--until Easter, the Lenten season is clearly set apart as a distinct time from the rest of the year.
Additionally, the omission of the more joyful terms during Lent forms a powerful contrast with the festive Easter celebration of Jesus' resurrection when our alleluias ring loud and clear.
Lent begins with the solemn mid-week observance of Ash Wednesday. In the Bible a way of showing distress and sorrow is to put ashes on one's face. As a way to visualize the sorrow we are to feel for our sins, Bethel Lutheran practices the "imposition of ashes" just prior to our mid-day and evening service. This action (of having a small amount of ashes put on one's forehead) helps us to start Lent off with an emphasis on the sorrow we have for our sins.
Finally, while we can see a denial of self--"giving something up"--during Lent as a way of helping further focus on the suffering of Christ for us, this is something totally optional for the believer. Recently, our Pastor encouraged us with these words regarding self-denial during Lent: "...perhaps "taking up something" would be of more benefit to you than giving up something. Consider taking up a daily Scripture reading...or a set time of prayer each day." Either way, "giving up" or "taking up," we pray that for you the 40 days of Lent will include daily time spent with the Lord in preparation for the joy that Easter brings.
Text adapted from material on LCMS.org web site.
|Bethel Lutheran Church's Mission is declaring the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, calling them into faith, while sharing and strengthening the faith of our members and fellow believers.|