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Complete answers to the United Methodist Lent Quiz

1. What does the term 'Lent,' which comes from 'lencten,' mean?

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The correct answer is spring.

Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The root words mean "long days," and this combination probably refers to the increasing daylight at this time of year. Lent's 40 days represent Jesus' time in the wilderness, enduring temptation and preparing to begin his ministry.

What is Lent and why does it last forty days?
Check out all our Lent and Easter resources.

2. How were ashes imposed in the early church?

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The correct answer is ashes were poured or sprinkled over the head.

In the early days of the church, pastors did not dip their thumbs into the ashes to draw the shape of a cross on your forehead. Instead, they poured or sprinkled ashes over your head.

Read more about the tradition of imposing ashes on the first day of Lent and what the ashes symbolize for Christians.

Learn more about why Lent begins with ashes.

3. Why do people give things up for Lent?

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The correct answer is all of the above.

Many people give something up for Lent like chocolate, social media, shopping, or a bad habit. These are modern-day adaptations of the spiritual discipline of fasting or abstinence.

John Wesley encouraged early Methodists to regularly practice abstinence or fasting as an act of piety, like praying or reading the Bible. He also taught that fasting was best when coupled with acts of mercy such as giving to the poor.

Rather than giving something up this Lent, you might choose to add a practice during Lent to achieve one or more of the same goals.

Explore other ways to observe Lent.

4. What snack food has significance during Lent?

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The correct answer is pretzels.

The twisted pretzel is said to have its roots in Lent. According to legend, a 7th century monk made bread from flour, water, and salt—no eggs or milk because they were avoided during Lent. He then formed it into the shape of a common prayer pose of the day, hands on opposite shoulders. You have to turn the pretzel upside down to see it.

Find more time for prayer.

5. Many people fast during Lent. How often did John Wesley fast?

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The correct answer is twice a week.

John Wesley fasted from all food beginning after the evening meal through mid-afternoon the next day. He thought the practice an important form of penitence that allowed more time for prayer and believed it was more meaningful combined with giving to the poor.

Jesus went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and nights. Fasting during Lent is a way of tuning in to the Christian idea of sacrifice. The United Methodist Church does not have official guidelines for the practice of fasting. Individuals are encouraged to make the best choice based on their personal situation.

Read Beyond fasting: 10 tips for a more meaningful Lent

6. Why does Lent last 40 days?

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The correct answer is to represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, tempted by Satan. (Matthew 4:2).

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter.

See ideas for making Lent more meaningful.

7. What do some United Methodists not sing at Lent?

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The correct answer is Alleluia.

Some United Methodist churches refrain from singing "Alleluia" and/or "Gloria" during Lent. This practice, sometimes called "Burying the Alleluia," is a way of recognizing the solemnity of the season and anticipating the glorious praise we will get to sing as we celebrate Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday!

Read about "Burying the Alleulia"

8. Which hymn, based on St. Patrick's prayer, would be a good Lenten devotion?

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The correct answer is "Christ Beside Me."

Hymn #2166 in The Faith We Sing is adapted from the words on the breastplate of the famous early evangelist.

Verse one reads: "Christ be beside me;
Christ be before me;
Christ be behind me,
King of my heart.
Christ be within me;"

Read what St. Patrick can teach United Methodists.

9. True or false? Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent.

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The correct answer is True.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter" and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.

The video "Desktop Meditation: A Lenten Journey" offers you a chance to reflect on the 40 days of Lent through photos and singing of "Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown."

Read "40 days of Lent: Find your own spiritual path"

10. When early Methodists in America sat in a church on a mourner's bench, they would...

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The correct answer is All of the above.

Early Methodists used a sacred, but plain, uncomfortable wooden bench called the "mourner's bench." Those who knelt at the bench were supposed to repent their sins, find new birth and rededicate themselves to Jesus.

"You would go to the mourner's bench and then after the service, like in many evangelical services today, the pastor and the lay leaders would come over and comfort you and pray for you," says Mark Shenise from the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History.

"It is plain. It's just made out of available wood, long planks," says Shenise. "They didn't form it into a very nice looking piece of furniture. It wasn't meant for that. It's the old rugged cross."

Watch the full video about the mourner's bench in Methodist history.

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