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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