All the great high points of the Church’s year (Christmas, Easter) are preceded by periods of reflection and self-examination, reflecting the tensions and rhythms of our spiritual lives. Martin Luther’s famous 95 theses nailed to the Wittenburg Church door in October 1517, began with the acknowledgement that “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Often people mark Lent by “giving up” some small luxury ~ chocolate, cheese, whatever. That’s not a bad thing, to exercise some self-discipline, but the danger is that we can sometimes make such a big thing of it that it trivialises the real importance of what Jesus calls us to ~ that is, to take up our cross daily and follow him. He calls us to put to death the old nature and to live a new resurrection life in the power of the Spirit.
(Something practical: I shall be observing Lent in three ways this year (1) I shall be eating one less meal a day (2) I shall be going to bed one hour earlier each day (3) I shall be looking to do one additional act of gratituous kindness for another person each day)