Lent is the Christian season of preparation. The marquee sign outside of Bethel United Methodist Church in Wildwood declares Lent to be "spring training for Easter."
In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the Lenten season, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Many churches in Wildwood and Eureka conducted Ash Wednesday services last night.
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time to reflect on suffering, sacrifice, life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Michael McIntyre at Living Word Church in Wildwood called it a period of "mercy and cleaning up." He suggests it is a good time to give up bad habits, bitterness, grudges and to accept the spiritual authority of God.
Not all Christian churches observe Lent; it mostly is practiced by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics.