More Details from Pastor Mike:
"The season of Lent is a six-week winter/spring observance that prepares us for Easter. Lent 2018 begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14, and concludes with Easter Sunday on April 1. I think this quite amusing: we begin a journey that starts on Valentine's Day and ends on April Fool's Day! Of course both observances have biblical reference: Jesus said "love one another" and Paul said "we are fools for Christ!"
The term "Lent" comes from a word that means "lengthen" and refers to the lengthening of days as we move from winter towards spring. For the church, Lent was a time to join in spiritual practices of study, fasting, and penitence. Lent was a time for believers to learn more about their faith, plumb the depths of their hearts, face the darkness of sin and death, and come out on the other end with a glorious celebration of Easter Resurrection.
The six-week time period, not counting Sundays, equals 40 days, referring to the 40 days Jesus spent in the Judean wilderness following his baptism at age 30, and prefacing the start of his ministry. Matthew and Luke record that the devil came to him in the wilderness and tempted him with three challenges, one economic, one political, and one about matters of life and death. These challenges we understand in our own lives.
When Jesus was baptized by John, he heard a message that he would continue: "repent!" That word in Hebrew means, "turn around!" Turn your life away from that which is meaningless and a waste of life energy, and get on the way to God. The Greek word for "repent" meant "renew your mind!" and get out of the traps of dusty, calcified thoughts, and limber up: renew, reframe, reset your thoughts to God and God's kingdom!
I was thinking that since Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day this year, instead of coming to a church service, let's spend time with our loved ones that evening and do something special and loving with them. Then, to honor the start of Lent, we could gather as a church on the evening before Valentine's Day: "Fat Tuesday" (Mardi Gras in French), or "Shrove Tuesday" (a time of preparation for Lenten self-examination) and eat desserts together and talk about Lent 2018 and how the season is a good time to deepen our faith and renew our spirits."