Millions of Christians around the world will spend the next 40 days celebrating a Christian tradition which predates every denomination.

The season of Lent refers to a 40 day period leading up to the celebration of Easter. The English word “Lent” is a funny one. If you lived at a time and in a place where Latin was spoken you wouldn’t call this time “Lent,” you would use the more precise word Quadragesima which is a direct translation from the Greek term for “fortieth” or “the forty”.

The exact day on which Lent should officially begin has been debated for many centuries. Most Western Christians start the 40 day period on Ash Wednesday. Eastern Christians start Lent on a day referred to as Clean Monday. It is usually the Monday of the week during which the west commemorates Ash Wednesday.

For Methodists who are encouraged to give up something for Lent, however, the emphasis is more on preparing our hearts and minds to reflect on the temptations of Jesus for 40 days and nights and what that means for us today.

For many people both at home and throughout the world, such denials would be beyond their wildest imagination. Their daily challenge is how to survive on meagre resources and providing for their families in the face of unimaginable hardship.

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