Have you ever wondered what people are talking about when they say they’re giving something up for Lent?
Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday before Easter. Lent is often described as a time of preparation and an opportunity to go deeper with God. This means that it’s a time for personal reflection that prepares people’s hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. You may have noticed people with a smudged, black cross on their foreheads. Those are ashes from the Ash Wednesday service. The ashes symbolize our grief for the things we’ve done wrong.
Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. It commemorates the night before Jesus died, when He shared the Passover meal with His closest friends and followers.
Good Friday is the day Christians remember Jesus’ death. The “Good” reflects how Jesus’ death was a sacrifice on our behalf so we can receive God’s forgiveness for our wrongs, or sins.
Easter Sunday is the joyful celebration of Jesus rising from the dead to give us the opportunity of eternal life. While people still die, Jesus made the way for people to have a relationship with God in this life and to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
The three main things people focus on during Lent are prayer, fasting (abstaining from something to reduce distractions and focus more on God) and giving, or charity.
Prayer during Lent focuses on our need for God’s forgiveness. It’s also about repenting (turning away from our sins) and receiving God’s mercy and love.
Fasting, or giving something up, is a very common practice during Lent. The idea is that giving up something that’s a regular part of life, like eating dessert or scrolling through Facebook, can be a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice. That time can also be replaced with more time connecting with God.
Giving money or doing something good for others is a way to respond to God’s grace, generosity, and love. For example, some people spend time volunteering or donate the money they would normally use to buy something, like their morning coffee.
Jesus sacrificed Himself on Good Friday to bear the punishment for all our wrongdoings and offer us forgiveness. He was raised from the dead on Easter Sunday to give us an opportunity to have a relationship with God for eternity.