The Christian year centers on the major events of salvation history, celebrating Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
Lent refers to the forty days leading up to Easter. The Lenten season is set aside for self-examination, spiritual renewal, and growth. In many churches, it is seen as a time for fasting and abstinence, for alms-giving and acts of mercy, for repentance and prayer.
Augustine describes the season of Lent this way, “In what part of the year could the observance of the forty-day fast be more appropriately instituted than that adjoining, so to speak, and touching on, the Lord’s Passion?”
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People may choose a variety of ways to observe Lent in their personal lives. Some choose to “give up” something for Lent; this may free them from a bad habit or a distraction or may simplify their lives, and it allows for more time to spend in studying God’s Word or in prayer. Others fast, to cleanse their bodies and to identify with the poor. Some choose to commit themselves to acts of mercy, to giving of their money and their time to service in the Kingdom. Some use these 40 days to focus on a particular portion of scripture or daily prayer or a devotional book that helps them to journey with Christ to the cross. In all of these ways, people use this season for deeper reflection and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death on Easter.
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