As we approach the upcoming celebration of Easter, many churches observe the penitential period known as Lent. The observance of Lent began during the 2nd century as a period of fasting in preparation for Easter. Early Christians believed so strongly in the significance of what Jesus had done for them that they felt the need to prepare themselves, so that they could be worthy to celebrate Easter, thus the beginning of Lent. Over the next couple centuries the period of time was extended to 40 days before Easter not including Sundays. This transferred into 46 days beginning on a Wednesday, which became known as Ash Wednesday. Churches today observe Ash Wednesday with special services and by placing an ashen cross on the foreheads of believers.
In today’s society the original significance of Lent has been greatly reduced. In the words of one contemporary song we tell Jesus, “You are worthy of my praise.” We should turn that the other way and become concerned about whether or not we are worthy of what Jesus did for us, just as the early Christians did.