What is Lent? The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word “lengten,” which simply means “spring” — when the days lengthen and new life springs forth. It is a time to anticipate the light over darkness. C.S. Lewis called it a season of a kind of “happiness and wonder that makes you serious.” I envision a road winding up to a cross upon a hill, with a sunrise beaming behind it, casting shadows across the landscape. It’s a glimpse of the full picture from the beginning of the journey. Just for a moment, can you imagine what Jesus was thinking, how he was feeling, and the burden he must have been carrying? Beyond a religious observance, the time of lent can be a transformational experience for any believer. It is a chance to walk with Jesus to the cross. We are given the opportunity to grieve and mourn at the gravity of sin that required His walk and eventual death. We are challenged to look soberly at the gloom and despair of life outside of God’s grace. This is dark, but here is where Lewis’s words “happiness and wonder that makes you serious” come into play. It’s the full understanding of our sinful and desperate state, but the joy of God’s forgiveness all at the same time. It truly is “serious happiness and wonder”…a deeper wonder and happiness that is only experienced when true darkness and despair is realized. This is why Lent is so vital to maximizing the joy of Easter. There seems to be a longing in this world for depth and true happiness. I believe Lent can be the beginning of that road. From now until Easter our music will help you reflect, ponder and walk down the road with Jesus. You will notice the music taking a more contemplative and reflective tone in worship. This is our chance to dig deep and connect with Jesus, being honest of our need for Him. As we move into holy week, the choir will be leading a service on Good Friday evening. accompanied by piano and chamber orchestra, this will be a powerful service, reflecting on the final week of Jesus’ life. This is the end of the walk and the beginning of the hill, where at the top you will encounter the crucified Lord. With this connection to Jesus, His life, and His death, we can truly understand and experience the “serious” happiness and joy of resurrection!

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts still speaks powerfully!

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.