Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is Lent?

United Methodists are not always familiar with the season of Lent. As a child, I don't remember much about Lent. It was not until I went to seminary and became aware of what is known as liturgical renewal (talks among the mainline denominations about using a common lectionary and church year)that I really began to understand. Methodists have always had a lectionary, assigned scriptures, but did not use them regularly until we joined the other churches in following a three-year lectionary.

Lent is that season of preparation and study prior to Easter. We usually encourage it to be a time of self-examination (ouch) and prayer, a time to deepen our relationship to God. The word Lent comes from an anglo-saxon word for the Lengthening days of the year during spring.

Charlie Graves, Minister Emeritus at Bethel, tells me that someone asked him recently to explain Lent. He remembered a hymn that we sung on Ash Wednesday and he gave that hymn to the person as an explanation. He's right; this hymn does give a good description of Lent. So, here in the middle of Lent, I offer it to you.

Lord, who throughout these forty days for us did fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins and close by thee to stay.

As thou with Satan didst contend, and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight, in thee to conquer sin.

As thou didst hunger bear, and thirst, so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly life by thy most holy word.

And through these days of penitence, and through thy passiontide,
yea, evermore in life and death, Jesus, with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life of suffering over past,
an Easter of unending joy we may attain at last.

See you in Church!
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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