“they would have repented .. in sackcloth and ashes.”
In the West Lent starts on Ash Wednesday which this year falls on 18 February. Good Friday is on 3 April and Easter Sunday on 5 April.
The ‘40 days’ of Lent are associated with the 40 days of Jesus fasting in the desert. The 6 Sundays are excluded in the calculation as they are said to represent either the day of rest or the day of Jesus victory over death. For Christians over the ages Lent has been a period of fasting, self-examination and penitence – a time when people are reminded both of their need for salvation, the sufferings and death of Christ on their behalf and the victory of Jesus over sin and death.
In many churches there will be special services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Journey to Easter. The theme is Penitence. Ashes will be blessed and used as a symbol of repentance. Many people will go forward to be marked on their forehead with a cross of these ashes. They are normally prepared from the Palm Crosses used on Palm Sunday the previous year.
Father – please help me to accept this opportunity to journey with You every day, and in so doing to draw closer to You. Please shine Your light into my places of darkness and let me know the wonder of Your healing love. Amen.