Lent is the forty-day-long season of fasting and prayer before Easter. Lent begins today, on Ash Wednesday, and concludes on Holy Saturday. The Ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance, cleansing, and new life. People would put on Ashes as a sign of repentance in scripture. Ash was formerly used to make soap for cleansing. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where He endured temptation by Satan.
The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the disciple and follower of Jesus, through prayer, confession and repentance, justice and giving and self-denial. These practices are historical rituals to prepare for the commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Each of these practices are to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent and each represent a different expression of a disciples faith. Prayer (communion with God), fasting (self control and discipline), and giving (justice towards our neighbors).
It is acceptable today, give up something that you struggle with, or desire to rid your life of, or even something that simply waste a lot of time in your life and add something that will bring you closer to God.
This is the measure of the gospel. To transform us internally, deconstructing those things that hinder us from connecting with God and being whole people, and reconstructing a new way of being and new practices that draw us into Him.
How will you spend the next 40 days?