What is Lent, and why do we observe it?
Written by Pastor Jon Heeringa

It’s Lent. But what does that mean?

Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days (excluding Sundays) until Easter. It’s a period of preparation for when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Here are some common questions about the season.

Why is Lent 40 days?

Lent is 40 days because it’s a 40-day pattern that we see in Scripture. Moses spent 40 days up on the mountain alone to receive the Ten Commandments. Elijah spent 40 days on a pilgrimage alone to hear from God in a still, small voice. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tested and fasting before he launched his public ministry.

What’s with all the purple?

The liturgical color for Lent is purple. It’s why you see so much purple in churches during the season. We highlight the color purple because Jesus was dressed in a purple robe and mocked just before his crucifixion by soldiers for being the supposed king of the Jews. But they didn’t have a clue that he’s actually the King of kings.

Why do people give things up during Lent?

We consider Lent a penitential season, a season where we repent of all the sin that prompted Jesus to die for us. To help us remember all that, to help us spend time with Jesus, to help us grow in our Christlikeness and to help us repent it is common during Lent to take on some disciplines, or practices.

Sometimes those practices are practices of engagement, where we take something on. Some of the practices are of abstinence, where we give something up. But it is important to note that these practices are not actually the point. Practices are a means, not an end.

We, we take on these practices so that we can become like Jesus, so that we can imitate Him, and so that we can draw close to Him.

For more on Lent, join us each Sunday for a message on various practices that Jesus engaged in that you can engage in, too, as a way to seek Him and be more like Him.