Today, March 6, is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Historically, Lent has been a time of reflection, penitence and self-denial. It began as a 40 hour reflection in keeping with the 40 hours Jesus was in the tomb. It ended with an Easter service at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning. During the 3rd century Lent grew to 6 days and was known as Holy Week; days of strict abstinence. Over time it grew to 36 days as a tithe of the 365 days of the year. 4 days were added in approximately 731 AD. The number 40 has been important in the life of the church. Jesus was tempted for 40 days. During the great flood described in the book of Genesis it rained for 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land.
The season of Lent will end the Saturday before Easter Sunday, April 20. While 40 days in length, Lent moves through six different weeks on the calendar. What shall you and I “do” or “not do” during the season of Lent? Let me offer one idea for each week in Lent.
Week 1 (Mar 6-16) Do a random act of kindness for another person.
Week 2 (Mar 17-23) Make a donation to an organization that serves the poor.
Week 3 (Mar 24-30) Spend extra time in prayer with God.
Week 4 (Mar 31-Apr 6) Spend extra time reading the Bible.
Week 5 (Apr 7-13) Focus on God through intermittent fasting.
Week 6 (Apr 14-20) Spend time in worship by attending church.
God bless you in this season of preparation, reflection and repentance. Off in the distance, the promise of the empty tomb and the risen Lord beckon us.