Lent sermon ideas

Lent is the forty day (plus six Sunday) time of preparing our hearts and minds to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 


When did fasting for Lent begin?

Dating back to the third and forth centires, the practice of taking forty days to prepare began in the early Christian church. The church chose forty days because of the significane of that number, calling to mind the forty years that Israel spent wandering in the wilderness, waiting for the promised land and the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness.

Both of these Biblical stories of forty days represent a time when the Israelites or Jesus gave up their things of comfort. As such, over the centuries, many Christians have given up something that they are fond of as a way of not only remembering Jesus' fast in the wilderness but also as a way to express our remorse for sin, to practice a discipline of self-control, to perhaps save money to give to those in need, and perhaps, to sharpen the appetite for celebrative feasting on Easter.

Why are Sundays not included in the forty days of Lent?

The forty day count does not include Sundays. While some congregations focus on repentence on Sunday, continuing the theme of Lent, others choose to emphasize that the Sundays are "little Easters" and call us to focus on repentance and praise. While we know that Christ died and we remember and anticipate that sacrifice during Lent, we also are people of the resurrection, knowing that Christ's resurrection is the reason we can worship.

How do I plan worship for Lent?

Lent begins on the Wednesday, forty-six days before Easter. Some congregations mark this Wednesday as Ash Wednesday, by imposing the sign of the cross in ashes on the foreheads of those gathered for worship. Lent is a period of preparation and historically this mean that the church took the time during Lent to prepare people for their professions of faith and baptism, both of which took place on Easter Sunday

When is Lent? 

Lent begins forty-six before Easter, not including Sundays, beginning on Ash Wednesday.

What color could be used for Lent?

The color purple can be used for Lent as the color of preparation and waiting. Notice that this is the same color as the color for Advent, the season of waiting for Christ's birth.

What themes could be used for Lent?

See also Ash Wednesday, Palm or Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday 

Bible passage ideas for Lent


Reflection on how great our sins and miseries are sharpens our sense of the need for the grace of our Savior. Sorrow for sin, honest confession, and deliberate amendment of our sinful lives is the basic drama of everyday Christian life at the intersection of sin and grace. Lent is a time to get very thoughtful at that intersection, taking to heart our plight and God's mercy.

Practices of fasting and repentance

The beginning of Lent often also marks the beginning of a time of fasting. During Lent many people answer the call to holiness and repentance by either abstaining from a harmful or distracting habit or committing to a spiritual practice to grow in faithfulness. Giving up a vice of some sort should be thought of not simply as a temporary practice, but as something that could or should continue beyond Lent—not as a public display of holiness, but as a move towards faithfulness.

Psalms of repentance

Prayers of confession and repentance can be found throughout scripture. During Lent, we shift our posture to that of confession and repentance as a means of focusing on Christ's sacrifice on the cross to forgive our sins.

Dying and rising with Christ

Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we ponder our mortality and sinfulness and thus our need to die and rise with Jesus Christ—not only in once-for-all baptism, but in the daily mortification of our old self and vivification of our new self. Through deliberate forms of self-denial, Christians in Lent open their hearts to the self-giving grace of Jesus Christ and their own union with Christ.

The word "Lent" comes from an Old English word that has to do with spring and the fact that in the northern hemisphere days in spring lengthen. Put together the dust representing human mortality and the water needed for baptism on Easter Sunday and what you get in Lent is mud season. Reflection on our mortality in Lent is a salutary spiritual exercise. If you walk through a cemetery and reflect on the fact that six feet under lie a number of well-dressed skeletons, and that one's own chances of joining them one day are high, a lot of other things in life get cast in a new light.

Sermon ideas for Lent

"Sometimes the task of explaining theological concepts to children seems incredibly daunting. But we can be encouraged: the most effective way of teaching children about Lent—and indeed about Christian faith and practice in general—is what we are (hopefully) already doing." Adam Waddell on Earth and Altar

"Forgive us, Abiding Love. We think we are so wise with the choices we make, only to end up with all that keeps us from you." Tom Shurman on re:Worship

"This aspect of Lent—"self-denial," usually in terms of fasting from food—has been taken up by many Christians, though the wider significance of this season of self-denial and intense consecration has been lost to view." J. Kameron Carter on The African American Lectionary 

"What will fasting do for you? Don't expect quick results, but over the years it will help get your ego out of the way. Fasting will help you gain control over the desires for self-will and immediate self-gratification." Bill Olnhausen on Ancient Faith

"Too often I enter into Lenten disciplines having never learned to trust God with my brokenness. . . . The best thing I can do this Lent is learn to embrace my dryness and brokenness as God's gift to me. I can do this trusting the good news that God wants to take me on a journey deeper into his love. "Seth Richardson on Missio Alliance

"Let me fast this Lent from all talk that puts down my neighbor,
reviles my perceived enemies, and creates division instead of community.
Lord, make my mouth an instrument of your peace."

Jonathan Montaldo on Gathered Prayers

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