Vocabulary —Lent

FAQ: What is Lent? What is the significance of Lent?

Photo of a cross made of small poles tied together and draped with a blue cloth against an all black background.Early in the Church’s history, the major events in Christ’s life were observed with special observances, such as His birth, baptism, death, resurrection and ascension. As these observances developed, a period of time was set aside prior to the major events of Jesus’ birth and resurrection as a time of preparation.

A photo of rough old cross with a purple cloth draped over it standing in the middle of a forest of young trees.During Lent, the Church’s worship assumes a more penitential character. The color for the season is purple, a color often associated with penitence. The “Hymn of Praise” is omitted from the liturgy. The word “Alleluia” is usually omitted as well. By not using the alleluia—a joyful expression meaning “Praise the Lord”—until Easter, the Lenten season is clearly set apart as a distinct time from the rest of the year. Additionally, it forms a powerful contrast with the festive celebration of Jesus’ resurrection when our alleluias ring loud and clear.

Q: Do Lutherans have to give up something for Lent as some other denominations require?

A: From the perspective of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, “giving something up for Lent” is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. It would be wrong, from our perspective, for the church to make some sort of “law” requiring its members to “give something up for Lent,” since the Scriptures themselves do not require this. If, on the other hand, a Christian wants to give something up for Lent as a way of remembering and personalizing the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins, then that Christian is certainly free to do so–as long as he or she does not “judge” or “look down on” other Christians who do not choose to do this.

LCMS Frequently asked questions

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