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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Lent: A time for the soul’s slow growth

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Josh Enderson

We find ourselves halfway through the season of Lent. As many in my church have heard me say, I feel like we’ve been in one, long Lent. We entered into the depth of this pandemic, with the first shutdowns and cases, during Lent of 2020, and it never really felt like we left this season of reflection, self-denial and giving things up.

Josh Enderson

Of course, Lent is far more than self-denial and “giving things up.” The word “Lent” means “lengthening” as in the lengthening of days, or “springtime.” This season is one that is all about growth. If things are given up, they are to be given up for our soul’s growth. This is a time of growth for our souls, like the silent growth of seeds planted in the earth. It is a time to reflect and grow in the darkness, preparing ourselves for the light of Easter.

Sometimes this sort of reflection isn’t easy. Sometimes we discover things about ourselves that we’d rather not see. But this is the healthy and necessary growth that we all must go through. Lent calls us into this reflection. It calls us to reflect on our relationship with God and with one another. It calls on us to take a closer look at ourselves. This isn’t easy work, but it is necessary work.

As Jesus says in John’s gospel, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24) Lent is a time to plant those seeds in our souls, to see what we might need to let go of in our lives. What do we need to let go of our lives in order for new life to spring forth? It’s a time to see what’s getting in the way of our relationships with others and with God. It’s work that we can only do when we take the time to stop and reflect.

As we get closer to Easter, and as spring breaks forth around us, may you find time to reflect. May you rest in Christ’s love and take some time to think about your relationships: with God, with others and with yourself. What do you need to encourage more of in your life: prayer, patience, kindness? And what do you need to gently let go of? Lent is the time to let it go.

Josh Enderson is pastor at Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.