Many Christian churches throughout the world are in the season of Lent. The name for this season comes from the Middle English word “lente,” which means “springtime.” The season of Lent is a somber one. We do not celebrate Lent or send “happy Lent” cards. We observe Lent and participate in the disciplines of Lent – fasting, repentance, and increased giving to and support of our neighbors in need, both near and far.
The season of Lent is also an invitation, an invitation to grow deeper in faith and trust of God. Historically, the 40 days of Lent would be a time of preparation for Holy Baptism for catechumenates, people new to the faith who are learning about Christian faith, culminating with Holy Baptism on the Saturday night before Easter, the Easter Vigil service.
Consider this season an invitation from your local congregations as well – an invitation to join in the observation of Lent as we prepare for the celebration of Easter. The old cliché says that “night is darkest just before the dawn.” The season of Lent and then the services of Holy Week (April 2-9) – Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and the Easter Resurrection services tell the story of Jesus’ ministry and then his journey toward the cross.
If you are curious about this Christian tradition and celebration, now is a great to time to connect or re-connect with a congregation here in the Muscatine area. Maybe you grew up in a congregation and have disconnected for any number of reasons. Maybe you’ve always wondered what those Christians are up to in the springtime that somehow has gotten connected to bunnies, eggs, and candy that everyone enjoys. Maybe you are looking for a place to be received in love, no matter what. If that is you, please join us in this season of Lent and celebration of Easter. I know we would love to have you at Zion Lutheran in Muscatine and there are a myriad of choices of congregations in the area who would be excited to have you as a curious visitor. If you are connected to a congregation and active in the worship life of that community, invite your neighbor, friends, and family to join with you in this holy season.
Christians do not have a monopoly on this time of year for religious observations. Our Muslim neighbors will begin the month of Ramadan on March 22 and our Jewish neighbors will celebrate Passover from April 5-13. If these are your religious traditions, I encourage you to participate in these observations and festivals as well. If they are not your religious traditions, I encourage you to honor and respect your neighbors and co-workers as they observe and celebrate these seasons. Springtime is a significant time as new life emerges from the earth. May these seasons bring us a renewal of life and love for God and neighbor.