As our culture becomes less Christian in perspective many begin to lose sight of the practices and traditions that help us keep our faith and our Lord Jesus Christ in the forefront. Here is a brief description of the Season of Lent.
Lent is the Christian season of spiritual preparation before Easter. Western churches start with Ash Wednesday and many Christians will observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial, and spiritual discipline.
The purpose of the Lenten Season on the church calendar is to set aside dedicated time for reflection on Jesus Christ and to reflect upon and consider his suffering, his sacrifice, his life, death, burial, and resurrection.
In the Bible, the number 40 holds special significance in the measurement of time, and many other important events in history.
During the flood for example, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:4, 12, 17; 8:6). Moses fasted on the mountain for 40 days and nights before God gave the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Deuteronomy 9). The spies spent 40 days in the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:25; 14:34). The prophet Elijah traveled for 40 days and nights to reach the mountain of God in Sinai (1 Kings 19:8).
The 40-day period of Lent is based on two examples of spiritual testing in the Bible.
The 40 years of wilderness wanderings by the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt (Numbers 33:38 and Deuteronomy 1:3).
The Temptation of Jesus after he spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).
Not all Christian churches observe Lent.
Lent is mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations.
Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter.
The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in scripture: 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.
Pancakes & Shrove Tuesday Before Lent?
Many churches that observe Lent, celebrate Shrove Tuesday by eating pancakes to use up rich foods like eggs and dairy in anticipation of the 40-day fasting season of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (French for fat Tuesday).