LENT & Holy Week

The Season of Lent

Lent is a special time of the year for Christians, especially for Lutherans who follow a rich liturgical tradition. 

What is Lent?

Lent is the season of the Christian church year beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter). The word "Lent" comes from an Old English word meaning "spring", as it coincides with the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. Lent is a season to reflect on our own sinfulness and need for a Savior. It is also a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of Easter, when we rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life.

Why is Lent important?

Lent is important because it reminds us of the great love that God has for us, and the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. Lent also helps us to grow in faith and repentance, as we examine our lives and confess our sins to God. Lent also encourages us to practice self-discipline and spiritual exercises, such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and meditation on God's Word. These practices help us to draw closer to God and to our neighbors, as we follow the example of Jesus, who "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7).

How do Lutherans observe Lent?

Lutherans observe Lent in various ways, depending on their local traditions and customs. However, some common elements are:

  • The color purple that adorns the Lord's house in various manners throughout the season of Lent. The dye to make purple was very difficult to source in ancient times, thus attributed to royalty, and adorned the Christ only once—as He was mocked and ridiculed as the “King of the Jews” prior to His gruesome crucifixion. This deep hue has come to represent solemnity, penitence, and prayer as God’s people meditate on the agony His Son willingly endured.
  • The omission of the word "Alleluia" from the liturgy and hymnody as well as an omission of the Hymn of Praise. “Alleluia”—a Hebrew word meaning “Praise the Lord”—returns full-voice in the glorious celebration of Easter morning.
  • The sign of the cross applied upon the repentant Christian’s forehead during the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. Typically utilizing ash created by the burning of palms from the previous Palm Sunday, this symbolic rite is a reminder of the sign of the cross that was placed on us in our Baptisms, our mortality (“Remember: you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”), and the filth of our sin that has been washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
  • The services that are held during Lent, such as midweek services, Holy Week services (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday), and the Great Vigil of Easter. These services focus on different aspects of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection, and often include special readings, prayers, hymns, and ceremonies.
  • The fasting that some Lutherans practice during Lent, either by abstaining from certain foods or activities, or by adding something positive to their daily routine. Fasting is not a requirement or a merit, but a voluntary act of devotion that helps us to remember our dependence on God and His grace.

Lent is a wonderful opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with God and to grow in faith and love. May God bless you during this Lenten journey!


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