Dates for assembly

24th February 2006 at 00:00
March 1: Lent

Outline script What are you giving up for Lent? Chocolate? Sweets? Crisps? Chips? Alcohol? Smoking? For hundreds of years, Christians have tried to give something up for these 40 days.

In olden times, people used to fast quite strictly during Lent. This meant eating just one full meal in 24 hours, while totally abstaining from meat.

How much you could eat at that one meal was never made clear. One bishop said: "Whosoever eats a hearty or sumptuous meal in order to bear the burden of fasting satisfies the obligation of fasting."

But Pope Gregory (writing in the 6th century) laid down the rule that fasting meant not only giving up meat but also "all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs", which is why we still eat such things in the form of pancakes on the day before Lent, Shrove Tuesday.

Christians believe that some form of fasting is a way of proving the mind is stronger than the body. Some give the money they save to a charity. Lent is also a way of remembering the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his three-year ministry.

Christians spend time thinking about their past wrong-doings, how they can do better in the future and preparing for Easter. Theword Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "lencten" meaning to lengthen, referring to the lengthening of daylight hours. Lent was therefore the Saxon word for spring.

Follow-up

Make a Lenten calendar. Since the fourth century, Christians have debated when Lent ends. Some believe all Sundays are feast days in memory of the resurrection of Jesus and therefore not part of Lent. Others believe Lent ends at the start of Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter.

The story of Jesus' temptation in the desert can be found in chapter 4 of both Matthew's and Luke's Gospels; and is briefly mentioned in Mark (Chapter 1, verse 14).

The websites of Copp Church of England School, Great Eccleston in Lancashire and Woodlands Junior in Tonbridge, Kent contain information about Lent: www.coppschool.lancsngfl.ac.ukblackbar.htm?ClassworkClassworkcalendarle nt.htm

www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.ukcustomslent.html

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