To prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday, we take a season of 40 days to focus on our need to repent of our sins and our need of a Savior from sin. This is the season of Lent.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. The name, Ash Wednesday, comes from the ancient custom of imposing ashes on the worshippers. The pastor marks the forehead with a cross of ashes. Ashes are traditionally made from palm branches left from the previous Palm Sunday.
During this season worship services are penitential and solemn, and many churches add special Midweek services. Churches are decorated in violet, the color of royalty and repentance, reminding us to turn away from our sin and toward Christ for His mercy and forgiveness. During Lent we do not use “Alleluia.” Some churches even observe the ritual of “burying” the Alleluia at the beginning of Lent, with the joyous anticipation of its return on Easter Sunday.
Many fast, or give up eating a particular meal in order to devote time to prayer and studying God’s Word. Some may “give up something for Lent.” Similar to fasting, the person gives up something they enjoy as a reminder to pray and of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.