The Meaning of Lent
Good Sunday Morning,
Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent; and seeing as we are in the midst of Lent, I figured we should all know what that really means . . . or at least I figured you should all know what I think that really means. According to the omnipotent Google, the word Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, meaning “lengthen” and refers to the lengthening days of spring. For those working the New York Times crossword puzzle, it is the 4 letter word meaning “the 40-day period before Easter (not counting Sundays).” The 40 days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is traditionally marked by repentance, reflection, self-examination, sometimes sacrifice, and ultimately a celebration . . . and no, I am not talking about you having three teams in the final four of your March madness bracket.
According to the ELCA Lenten Study Guide, Lent is also a season of hope – hope in the work God is doing in the world, even in the most challenging times.
Now, I realize that we are all pretty busy (or at least, easily distracted), but seriously, Lent is 40+ days long, surely you can find a few extra minutes during this time within which to reflect on Jesus - to consider his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, and resurrection.
Lent is a penitential (and I challenge you to impress your friends at your next dinner party with the use of that word in a sentence that does not also include the word lent) season. That means it is an opportunity to examine your own life, pray to God to lighten your load, while asking him to help you "Be All You Can Be." Perhaps some of you may even be familiar with the advertising campaign – Lent: It does a body good.
Now, I am quite aware that many of you are already well-along your Lenten journey and daily demonstrate the attributes of Lent - penitence, faith, commitment, service, and humility (yep, I thought that was funny too, there's that word again) . . . and then there are the rest of you. What are you waiting for? Perhaps it is time to step it up a bit, I’m just saying.
So pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, . . . take a good hard look at yourself . . . and take solace in knowing that the Lord has made this day . . . and all of the surprises that make it wonderful . . . may you rejoice and be glad in it.
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P.P.S. - Coincidence that I chose to lead this message with the word “midst”? Perhaps, but . . . as we are reminded by Luke 17:20-21, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”