Lent is the 40 Day Season of the church year, where we walk with Jesus to the cross. This is a season that begins with Ash Wednesday. The color of the paraments in the church during Lent is purple, a royal color fit for our King Jesus, who was mocked, beaten, given a crown of thorns to wear, and whose glorious throne was the cross! Throughout the days of Lent, many Christians take on the Lenten Discipline of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. These three actions are traditionally connected to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and to the story of Jesus, who was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.


Fasting is a significant part of Lent. Part of the reason for this is connected to the very first sin in the Bible, when Adam and Eve could not resist eating fruit from the tree of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Realizing that the fruit was good for food, they ate it, even when God had told them not to. They were tempted by their physical desires, choosing to appease their desires rather than obey God’s command. This is sometimes referred to as the “lust of the flesh,” and it is a common temptation for us all even today. Therefore, during Lent, as we remember our brokenness and sin, and as we reflect on the sin of Adam and Eve, we fast. Instead of choosing to follow Adam and Eve’s lead, we seek to walk in Christ’s footsteps. For, when Christ was tempted by Satan to fulfill his physical desires by turning the stones of the wilderness into loaves of bread, he refused. Jesus told Satan that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus shows us that our physical desires are not more important than our relationship with God. Therefore, during Lent, many Lutherans may fast from a certain food, such as chocolate, bread, or coffee, throughout the season. Alternatively, we might give up a meal or a food item on one day a week, such as red meat on Fridays. Often our fasting is done in solidarity with the hungry on our streets, or in solidarity with Christ, who sacrificed and suffered for us.


We give to others during the Season of Lent in remembrance of Adam and Eve, who did not give, but who took the fruit that they wanted when they wanted it. They saw that the fruit was “pleasing to the eye,” (Genesis 3:6). For this reason, they plucked the fruit from the tree in deference to the graciousness of their Lord God, who had given them everything they ever needed in the Garden of Eden. This sin is sometimes referred to as the “lust of the eye.” In a similar sort of way, Jesus was tempted when Satan took him to the pinnacle of the temple and told him to jump off of it and watch God’s angels catch him. For surely, everyone who witnessed this spectacular act would believe he was God’s Son. However, Jesus reminded Satan to not put God to the test. Therefore, instead of taking what our eyes see, or striving for the shiny, glorious things of this world, we give to others during Lent. We change our perspective from focusing on ourselves to focusing on others. Sometimes, Lutherans give to charities or offer the money that they have saved up by fasting from excessive foods to people who are in need.


We kneel down and pray to God during the Season of Lent as we reflect on the story of Adam and Eve, who did not bow down to God, but sought to be gods, themselves. They were seduced by the serpent’s promise that if they ate of the fruit of the tree, they would be like God. Instead of obeying and worshiping God, they chose to bow down to their own selfish desires. This sin is sometimes referred to as “pride of life.” Jesus was tempted in a similar way by the devil in the wilderness. Satan offered him all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down to serve him, but Christ refused, saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only” (Matthew 4:10). During Lent, our prayers are a way for us to humbly acknowledge that we are not God as we lay down our lives in worship to our one true God.

Holy Week

Together, with our Lenten Disciplines of Fasting, Almsgiving, and Prayer, we journey with Jesus on his way to the cross until we reach Holy Week. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, as we wave our palm branches and cry out “Hosanna,” or “save us!” On this day, we remember how the crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with a big parade, waving branches, as he rode into town on a lowly donkey. We also read some of the passion story of Christ, which tells of Jesus’ final days before his death, as the same ones who welcomed him into Jerusalem would cry out, “Crucify him!” (Matthew 27:22). The final days of Holy Week are called The Great Three Days, or the Easter Triduum. They include Maundy Thursday, where Jesus shares a meal with his friends and washes their feet. On this day at St. Luke’s, children of the church partake of their first communion, and we also invite people forward during worship to have their feet washed/rinsed if they so desire. This washing of feet is a sign of how Christ has sent us into the world to serve others, just as he took the place of a servant and washed his disciples feet. The second day is Good Friday, which is the day when we hear the story of Christ’s passion and death. The third day of the Triduum is Resurrection Sunday, when we celebrate how Christ rose back up from the grave, defeating sin and death forever. On this day, we ring the church bells and sing “Alleluia,” or “Praise the Lord!” as we celebrate the joy of resurrection that Jesus brings to our lives.