The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Lenten nest

What will you add to these 40 days of waiting for new life?

Come and see!” The words of excitement spilled out like water bubbling over rocks. It was the first day that spring seemed like it might actually come — the first robins had been sighted, and we were able to rush outside without our winter coats. There in a bush right by the entrance to our sanctuary was the nest, woven of twigs and grasses.

wendy niemanBut the clever occupant had also included ribbon from a multicolored prayer pole in our meditation garden — purple ribbon, and only purple. We laughed at what kind of bird might know how to fashion this perfect Lenten nest. We decided it was definitely a Lutheran bird.

Some people say, “Lent? Too depressing.” But they were raised on giving up. I smile and speak about adding things that twist the kaleidoscope around our busy routines and give them a center. Lent isn’t just 40 days to wander in our personal wildernesses but a time set apart, a time to “nest” as well.

It’s a season of focus: on giving alms, a reminder of who feathers our nests; on prayer, a time to rest with God; on fasting, to keep us intent upon the God who provides; and on repentance, because, well, repentance is simply good for the soul. This is a journey that has a destination.

I love Lent. It’s a simple time. It’s a season that calls us back to the place where we began and helps us journey to the place where we couldn’t go ourselves. It gives us a place to stay warm during the last cold days of winter. And at just the right time, when the buds are about to burst forth, it gives us a place of new life.

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

Consider them, those birds of the air—for they know about Lent too.


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February issue


Embracing diversity