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All about Lent

What is Lent? How do I Lent? What practices should I observe?

What is Lent? (from Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs and Practices and Sacred Ordinary Days: Lent.)

“‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart ... rend your hearts and not your garments’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love...” - Joel 2:2-13

The season of Lent is a time of discipline and self-denial that begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Holy Saturday, for a total of forty days, not including Sundays. The forty days of Lent remind us of the forty years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness tempted by Satan. The devotion of Lent is meant to be a time of preparation, not punishment. We follow the example of Jesus, who prepared for his earthly ministry with a time of prayer and fasting. We engage in disciplines and devotions that draw us closer to him, so that we are ready to walk with him toward Jerusalem and the cross. Fun Fact: Every Sunday is a feast day celebrating Christ’s Resurrection, even during Lent. This is why we do not count Sundays as part of Lent. If you end up giving up some kind of food for Lent, for example, you can eat it on Sundays.

Lenten Themes: fasting, preparation, self-examination, quiet, contemplation, reflection, discipline, patience Lenten Scriptures: Genesis 3:19, Psalm 51, Isaiah 58:6-12, Joel 2:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 6:1-18

Lenten Colors: Purple - evoking both royalty and pain, Lenten array - a burlap-esque color symbolizing putting on “sackcloth and ashes” for penitence. For Holy Week (Palm Sunday - Holy Saturday) - red, black.


Most people associate Lent with the phrase “giving up _____ for Lent.” It’s not really a complete picture of what Lent is, and what Lent can be for us as Christians.

During the Ash Wednesday service, the Celebrant will invite the congregation into the observance of a holy Lent with these words: “I invite you... to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination, and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (BCP p. 265)

Lent is a season of fasting, prayer, and service to others, but, contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a time to be depressed or wallow or self-flagellate. Lent can be a wonderful time for self-reflection and growth. Lent can be observed in a variety of ways, but there are three basic methods: fasting/self-denial (taking something away), adding a positive spiritual discipline, or creating a Lenten rule of life (creating a different daily rhythm for the season - i.e. “every morning I will get up 15 minutes earlier to pray”).

Practices to Consider in Lent:

● Attend one of our Ash Wednesday services on Feb. 22 to receive the imposition of ashes.

● Observe a Lenten fast for forty days, abstaining from a habit or usual food or activity.

● Commit to a regular prayer practice for forty days, deepening your connection to God.

● Consider attending the Lenten series on Wednesdays in Lent.

● Attend the daily worship services in Holy Week.

● Perhaps commit to attending church more often, or joining in on a class or small group or book study during Lent.

● Perhaps make an appointment with one of our clergy for “Reconciliation of a Penitent” (Confession) on Ash Wednesday (or any time during Lent).

● Find a new avenue for giving or charity, serving your community and fellow neighbors.

However you decide to observe this season, we hope that it will be a fruitful journey for you.

+Your St. Andrew’s Clergy

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