Rev. Eric Brown
When I was young, I made an etymological mistake. I had just joined the elementary school band, and the topic of tempos came up, and there it was: lento. This means to take it slow, at an unrushed tempo. Now, as this happened to have come up on a Wednesday just before a Lenten soup supper, ever since fourth grade Lent has been connected with lento in my mind. (Lent is actually from the old English word for spring: Lencten.)
However, I am prepared to claim that my mistake was a happy and fortunate one. All too often it seems as though folks want to treat Lent as a season of sorrow and gloom, as though we need to make ourselves miserable in order to let ourselves be happy come Easter. That's just wrong. While Lent is a season of repentance, repentance isn't about making yourself miserable, or trying to show how really, really, really sorry you are. I'd argue that quite a bit of repentance is more about slowing down.
Slow down a bit. Seriously. Just pause. If you've given up something for Lent - cool - put whatever you've given up for a bit to the side and pause. And now ponder, but ponder what? Should we ponder how terrible and horrid we are? Well, sure...a touch, but that's not our main focus. Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus. Pause from your busy life, look at the Lenten texts, and just see what Jesus does for you.
The season of Lent is the time when we get to slow down a bit, step back, and watch Jesus just start to kick the tar out of Satan for our sake. He suffers temptations for us and knocks down Satan for us. He heals, He raises folks from the dead, He takes on false teachers, He provides for thousands. And as the culmination and high point of Lent, He even takes on death for us. And that's pretty awesome, so it's good to slow down and see it.
Maybe it might be good to think of Lent as that time of tension, where we are like runners on a line, tensed up, waiting for the starting gun of Easter when we can charge forward with great joy - spring forth, maybe. Of course, the "spring" of "Lencten" doesn't mean that either (etymologists, please give up hate mail for lent). But, we will go out like calves leaping from the stalls, trampling the ashes under our feet (Malachi 4:2-3). Either way: Slow down a bit and see all the wondrous things that Jesus has done and continues to do for you, so that your Easter Joy may be loud and full!
Rev. Eric Brown serves as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois.
Created: March 10th, 2016