Dear Friends in Christ:
The word Lent comes from the old English word meaning to lengthen and refers to the lengthening of daylight in the northern hemisphere at this time of year. We begin that lengthening process on Sunday, March 10th when we again spring our clocks forward one hour.
For us, the darkness and longer nights of winter are now giving way to the power and approach of springtime. The daylight is increasing, and new life is awakening. This natural phenomena is often enough to lift our winter-laden spirits with new hope. Similarly, the liturgical Season of Lent for Christians offers us a springtime for the soul. I use the word soul here with the classical Hebrew understanding and terminology where soul refers not just to one’s spirit but to one’s body, mind, and spirit inclusively. Just as with nature all around us, this time of year in the Church Year offers us the opportunity of experiencing Christ’s light and new life dispelling the darkness of our souls and awakening us to new life: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The Season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and initiates the annual spring cleaning of our souls. The ashes symbolize our acknowledgment of our own sin and mortality. But they also function as a spiritual cleanser (like pumice) that helps to scrub away the dirt and stains of the neglect or wrongdoings that need to be removed from our lives. It is also a time to reflect on those broken relationships that have plagued our lives through seeking healing and wholeness in these forty days of our soul-wandering wilderness, giving our lives over to God as His broken children.
During this season of Lent, as well, we will also be Counting Our Blessings. We will be handing out a game board along with a can to take up donations for each blessing we count during each day in Lent, not counting the Sundays in Lent. For each blessing, we will be asking the congregation to make a coin offering. For example, the first day in Lent has us looking at all the lights in our home. We are then asked to make a coin offering for each light we have been blessed with by God. As the days go by and we count our blessings while making a coin offering for each blessing, we will gather up all the cans on Easter Sunday and donate the monies collected to the ELCA Good Gifts program.
To familiarize ourselves on what this program entails, publications may be found on the table where the Rainbow Trails Lutheran Camp tri-fold is located. Most of the programs these funds go towards help people in the Third World countries with providing the basic necessities of life like helping purchase an animal to supply nutrition or to build a water well to provide fresh drinking water to the community.
So, as Lent affords us a way of Christ’s light dispelling the darkness of our souls and seeking a new beginning come Easter morn, we will be helping others seek Christ’ light and dispel the darkness of hunger and the lack of the basic necessities of life through our generous donations to the ELCA Good Gifts program.
May the Holy Spirit be our guide during this season in Lent!