- Lent is an Old English word. It comes from Anglo-Saxon lengten which is like our “lengthen.” The days are beginning to get longer – to lengthen. So Lent means “spring is coming.” Just as there is springtime in the world of nature, so there is a special springtime in the hearts of Christians as we prepare for Easter. Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday.
- For many centuries Lent has been celebrated in the Christian churches as a time for remembering. We remember such things as:
- The 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. He overcame temptations in those days, and it was a time when he felt special strength from God
- The power and authority of Jesus’ teaching
- The comfort and strength of Jesus’ healing
- The determination Jesus showed in completing his mission
- The loneliness and courage Jesus experienced the last days of his life
- The living presence of Jesus with us every day
More on the Forty Days of Lent
Lenten themes emphasize discipleship and spiritual renewal. Discipleship is, in part, a matter of self-understanding. This is one reason why it is i9mportant to spend time in self-examination and reflection. We need God’s help to rightly understand who we are and whose we are. As Christians, we are called to follow Jesus. His life, his words, and his involvement in our humanity shape us and free us to embrace the fullness of life promised by God.
Commitment is another important part of our discipleship. Believers not only learn about Jesus; they encounter Jesus and are shaped by who he is. Transformation takes place as a result of being with Jesus. When we are truly committed to following Jesus, we realign our priorities as needed. We come to see ourselves in a new way. We discover the power of God’s love and the expectations of those who become the recipients of the love.
Christian love is expressed most clearly in John 3:16. This is a sacrificial love, a love that gives all. On the cross, God gave himself for us. Discipleship is a process of recognizing the love we have received and exploring the love we have to offer. As disciples, we give of ourselves not for attention or to earn God’s love. We give of ourselves in love to others because we understand that we were loved first by God. His love changes us and challenges in our lifelong process of continuing growth.