The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



A fresh approach to Lenten discipline

Thrilled with the invitation to spend a weekend with friends at their new lake home, Jim and Janelle packed up their Jeep with fishing poles, beach toys, bags and bug spray. Their vehicle, jam-packed and loaded down, was a perfect metaphor for their stress-filled lives.

In addition to the normal strain of raising three small children, they had been dealing with an unexpected season of unemployment, the deaths of two close family members and several medical challenges. Needless to say, they were desperate for a vacation and thankful for the chance to unwind. As their vehicle lurched onto the highway, feelings of stress began to melt away, slowly, like the ice in their cooler of groceries and pop.

The best part of the trip was leaving behind the fierce drive of agendas, routines and unrelenting responsibilities. They savored lying in a hammock and studying the sun glistening on the water like sparklers on the Fourth of July. Waking up at midnight to show their children an evening sky boasting a pollution-free view of the moon. Picking raspberries and rhubarb in the early morning, their mouths stained happy red as they anticipated rolling out pastry for a pie. Swimming in the lake. Living in the moment.

What if we approached Lent with this same easy discipline, embracing a vacation-minded rhythm to our days? Instead of taking on more, giving up more, serving or sacrificing more, what if we focused on the promise in Isaiah 30:15: "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength"? What if we committed to repentance and rest during Lent, embracing the Hebrew meaning of salvation — yasha: to be open, wide or free?

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