Although Lent in the Western Christian churches doesn't begin until March 6 (and March 14 in the Eastern Christian churches), the Christian East actually dedicates several weeks prior to Lent to prepare for it.
Yes, that's correct. Lent prepares us for Easter, but we also have preparation for Lent. In fact, we even have a Sunday to prepare for the preparation.
The beginning of the Lenten Triodian was Sunday, and the Triodian has themes based on Jesus' parables.
This past Sunday's theme was the Publican and the Pharisee. The next Sunday is the Prodigal Son, the Sunday after that is the Sheep and the Goats; and the Sunday after that one is Forgiveness Sunday. Lent starts the following day, on a Monday.
Now Feb. 10 was the Sunday of Zacchaeus, which has its own theme. Zacchaeus, a tax collector with a reputation for defrauding people, was slight in stature. Zacchaeus knew of Jesus' popularity and wanted to hear him speak.
But the crowds were too vast for Zacchaeus to get near Jesus. So he climbed a tree. Jesus saw, instructed Zacchaeus to come down and then told him he was coming to Zacchaeus' house for dinner.
During dinner, Zacchaeus' heart was changed. He promised not only to change his behavior, he would repay anyone he cheated over and above the required amount.
I feel the gospel has a great message before we prepare for Lent. During this season we will spend more time praying and renewing ourselves. As our relationship with God changes, we take those changes back into the community to serve others.