This year, Lent begins on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. The day before Lent is called Shrove Tuesday, which is the time for soul cleansing. As this is the last day of the liturgical season historically known as “Shrovetide”, before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one gives up for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations. Fat Tuesday here refers to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by both Catholics and Protestants. It’s very important to note here that the Eastern Orthodox Christians also celebrate Lent but on a slightly different schedule. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. Basically, it is a time of self-discipline.
Fasting can be a good thing, and God is pleased when we repent of sinful habits. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside some time to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, repenting of sin is something we should be doing every day of the year, not just during the 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays) of Lent.
The key to observing Lent is to focus on repenting of sin and consecrating oneself to God. Lent should not be a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn God’s favor or increasing His love. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is.
According to Denise K. Loock, “When Paul told the Romans to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, I think he had in mind the daily-ness of sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2). Motivation is everything. My commitment to Jesus should involve the following:
- Daily contemplation of the price Jesus paid for my sins and my inability to meet God’s standard of righteousness
- Daily commitment to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on myself
- Daily reflection on the endless supply of God’s mercy and grace
- Daily gratitude for the ways he allows me to be his hands and feet in a hurting world”
The official end of Lent is on Thursday, April 9, three days before Easter Sunday. However, there’s an entire list of events leading up to the finale that’s called Holy Week as you can see below. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. This marks Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, where he received palm branches at his feet.
List of Events Leading to Easter Sunday
|Ash Wednesday||The beginning of Lent, a day of reflection and repentance from sin||February 26, 2020|
|Palm Sunday||Celebrates Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem||April 5, 2020|
|Holy Week||The week leading up to Easter Sunday||April 5- April 11, 2020|
|Maundy Thursday||Commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles||April 9, 2020|
|Good Friday||Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and His death at Calvary||April 10, 2020|
|Easter Sunday||Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and his victory over sin and death.||April 12, 2020|
In the Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Roman Catholic, and many Anglican churches, the pastor’s vestments are violet during the season of Lent. Roman Catholic priests wear white vestments on solemnity days for St. Joseph (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25), although these solemnities get transferred to another date if they fall on a Sunday in Lent or at any time during Holy Week. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, rose-coloured (pink) vestments may be worn in lieu of violet. Historically, black had also been used: Pope Innocent III declared black to be the proper color for Lent, though Durandus of Saint-Pourçain claims violet has preference over black.
During Lent, BBC’s Radio Four normally broadcasts a series of programs called the Lent Talks. These 15-minute programs are normally broadcast on a Wednesday and have featured various speakers, such as John Lennox.
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