THE SEASON OF LENT
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent, the 40 days (not counting Sundays) that precedes Easter. The date of Easter falls on the Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox, a time determined by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. “Lent” is from the Anglo-Saxon word for “lengthen,” as in the lengthening days of spring. This season of 40 days has been celebrated by Christians at least since the early 2nd century. In the Christian Scriptures the number 40 relates to the period spent by Noah in the Ark, the period spent by Israel seeking the Promised Land after the Exodus, and the amount of time Jesus was in the Wilderness after his baptism and prior to beginning his ministry. For us, the Season of Lent is when the passion and death of our Savior come into focus. It’s observed as a time for growth in faith, as well as a time for deepening the devotional life of faithful Christians. It’s an invitation to 40 days of renewal, 40 days to prepare ourselves to take in the Good News of Easter through the disciplines of prayer, self-denial, and rededication. Ash Wednesday represents our sorrow for our sins, our repentance, and our morality. Receiving the sacrament tonight reminds us that God’s love is triumphant over sin and death, that He remains “in communion” with us, and that through Christ’s redemptive act on the cross, our mortality is overcome.
This is the season of the church year from Pentecost (50 days after Easter) to the first Sunday in Advent.