Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which traditionally begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.
Our English word “Lent” comes from the Anglo–Saxon word for "lengthen" and refers to the lengthening days of spring. Lent is a season of preparation for the celebration of Easter. It's a time to focus on the hope of Jesus Christ through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection.
Originally, Lent was a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts to Christianity. Over time, Lent evolved into a time of penance, self-denial, and reflection by Christians. Nowadays, many protestant Christians prepare for the celebration of Easter by undertaking acts of fasting, self-sacrifice (giving something up), giving, and prayer. Ultimately, it’s not about what we do; these are means to focus ourselves on what Jesus did.
And, because Sundays are always "little Easters," the penitential and self-denying spirit of Lent is tempered each Sunday with joyful expectation of the Resurrection!
We invite you to dive deeper into this beautiful season by exploring devotions and blog posts about Lent from Today and our sister programs from ReFrame Media.
Today wishes you a prayerful, meaningful, and transformative Lent
What is Lent?
By Robin Basselin
Growing up, I went to a church that nominally celebrated the season of Lent. The pastor usually said something about Lent on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday, but that was about it. Sometime during my college years, our church began holding an annual Ash Wednesday service. Like Christians around the world, my forehead would receive the black, cross-shaped mark created from the ash of last year's Palm Sunday branches. But even after my church started observing Ash Wednesday, there was rarely ever mention of Lent again until the kick-off of Holy Week nearly 6 weeks later. Over the years, I intuitively picked up bits and pieces of information about the meaning and purpose of Lent, but like many other evangelicals, I was never directly taught what Lent was all about. For those of you that are like me, let's see if we can plow through some of the basics of this important season of the church calendar...
» Read What is Lent?
What are Ash Wednesday and Lent All About?
By Steven Koster
When I was in college, someone handed me a nail on a leather string during a worship service. Students on my campus were wearing the nail around their necks in the weeks before Easter to remind themselves of their sin. The nail was to remind me not only that my sin needs a savior, but also that my sin too caused Jesus to be nailed to the cross. This was my introduction to the idea of Lent, and it was powerful preparation for an Easter celebration.
9 Lenten Terms You Should Know
By Robin Basselin
As I noted in my article "What is Lent?," I grew up in a church that nominally observed the season of Lent. We certainly celebrated Palm Sunday and Easter, but Ash Wednesday and adamant fasting? Not so much. Even when we did begin observing other Lenten practices, like Ash Wednesday, I still did not always understand the significance. So, if you too have a vague understanding of what Lent is all about, I hope these Lenten terms will help you fill in the gaps...
Three Reasons Why More Christians Are Observing Lent
By Christopher Hunt
In the past several years, it seems that more and more Protestant Christians have begun to observe Lent, a season of about six weeks before Good Friday. Lent is a time traditionally set aside for fasting, prayer, and reflection to focus on the hope of Jesus Christ through his death on the cross and his resurrection. Many have viewed Lent as a primarily Catholic or Orthodox tradition. And yet, this growing interest in Lent among evangelicals has been both corporate and individual. Corporately, for example, churches from various denominations, whether Reformed or Southern Baptist, have put increasing emphasis on Lent in their liturgies. While at the same time, many Protestant Christians quietly observe Lent on their own. I see three key motivators for this increased interest by Protestants.
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A Short Version of the Long History of Lent
By Christopher Hunt
Beginning about six weeks before Easter, Lent is a time traditionally set aside for fasting, prayer, and reflection in preparation to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most enduring seasons in the Christian liturgical calendar with some elements dating to perhaps earlier than the second century. Lenten traditions and practices have evolved over time. Yet, in spite of a turbulent church history, to say nothing of the ebb and flow of human migration, the rise of kingdoms, the decline of empires, the essence of Lent remains largely unchanged from its earliest history.
From Family Fire
What Are You Giving Up For Lent?
By Bret Lamsma
I remember as a kid committing to giving up outlandish things for Lent like caviar, escargot, and trips to Europe. I had never eaten caviar nor escargot and had never been to Europe, so that was an easy forfeiture. I’m pretty sure I missed the point. It wasn’t a sacrifice and it didn’t impact my daily walk with God at all.
Giving up (or picking up) something during Lent can enrich our faith practice, cultivate our sense of needing a savior, and show our families what God has accomplished for us in his death and resurrection. We draw attention to Christ's sacrifice as we change our pace and make intentional changes in our lives.
From Think Christian
Lent's Reminder That We're All Wolves of Wall Street
By John Van Sloten
When I was first introduced to the practice of Lent, I thought that six weeks of pre-Easter penance seemed a bit much. Why spend so much time thinking about and repenting for all of my sins?
However, Jordan Belfort - the real-life Wolf of Wall Street - taught me a lesson about the nature of sin and reminded me why six weeks of Lent may be very necessary. In an interview with The Globe and Mail’s Grant Robertson, Belfort talked about his one beef with the Oscar-nominated film that is based on his story: that his descent into depravity was a much longer journey than the movie suggests.
From Kids Corner
Preparing for Easter: A Lenten Family Devotional
By Ron VandenBurg
Lent offers a wonderful opportunity for families to spend time together in God's word. Journey towards Easter using this series of interactive family Lent devotions that encourages your family to grow in faith at home.