Lent 2013 begins next Wednesday, Feb. 13, and ends Saturday, Mar. 30, the day before Easter.
On the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, Christians attend a special service. Ashes from last year’s joyous Palm Sunday celebration are placed on their foreheads as a sign of mourning and repentance.
For the next 40 days, churches observe a period of prayer and fasting, remembering when Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry.
Pastor Tim Hackbarth, of Hosanna Lutheran Church in Forest Lake, explained the spiritual significance of observing Lent.
“Often we see Christ in happy terms of glory, joy and profound relief,” he said. “Lent gives us the other half of the picture.”
Christians spend 40 days every year thinking about not just the joy and glory, but also the pain and sorrow, he said, to explore the deeper dimension of Christ’s life and struggles.
They remember “his deep love for us that led to the sacrifice,” Hackbarth said.
Why do people give up something for Lent?
Our culture constantly says to add something to your life, he said. In contrast, “the Spirit says to withdraw something from your life, something that detracts from your relationship with God.”
Giving something up can help a person understand the power that thing has in his life, how it stands between him and God.
“It’s a way to connect to the suffering of Christ,” Hackbarth concluded.
Hosanna’s Ash Wednesday service is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13.
During Lent, Hosanna offers worship service with meals at noon and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The noon worship with holy communion, followed by a lunch of soup and bread, takes place in the Garden Chapel. The Wednesday evening meal is served from 4:45 to 6 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. worship service in the Great Hall.
During the week before Easter Sunday, Hosanna presents a reenactment of the Last Supper, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings (Mar. 26 to 28) at 7:30 p.m.