The celebration of Easter is just around the corner.
Lillies will populate the sanctuaries, crowds will fill the pews and trumpets will announce the most unthinkable news in human history. It is a day of victory and celebration – and rightly so.
Between now and then, however, lies the season of Lent. Many Baptists are beginning to recognize the richness of the Lenten season and, therefore, recover it in the life of the congregation.
Easter, while full of meaning and mystery, can only be explored in a faithful way by those who have gone the entire journey with Jesus.
To divorce resurrection from crucifixion is to distort the gospel. To participate in the triumph of Jesus without engaging the way of Jesus is to miss the point altogether.
Lent is simply the church’s way of living into the whole Easter story.
To be sure, Lent is not the most exciting season of the Christian year. These 40 days summon us to introspection and confession.
They remind us of the feebleness of our humanity and the seriousness of our sin. They take us deeper into the depths of our souls, the reality of our lives and the mystery of God.
The trumpets of Easter announce the good news far and wide, but the more subtle tones of music in the Lenten season propel the gospel down into the depths of our identity.
Lenten hymns are the soundtrack of the wilderness, the place of testing, shaping and calling. If the wilderness experience was necessary for Israel and for Jesus, it is necessary for us, as well.
Introspection is not exactly fun, but we can only be agents of change to the extent that we allow that change to have its way within us.
Confession isn’t the most exhilarating of Christian practices, but it’s difficult to take redemption seriously without taking sin seriously.
No one enjoys pondering their own mortality, but the first step to worshipping God is recognizing none of us are God. In short, Lent takes us to the places we least want to go but most need to.
Recently, I’ve been paying more attention to the music I hear. Like most people, I sing Sunday’s hymns long after I’ve forgotten the sermon – and I’m the one who preached it.
Often, background music in a department store echoes in my mind long after I’ve left the store.
Hearing some songs immediately transports me to a favorite movie, a difficult day or a magnificent worship service.
Music has a way of penetrating to the core of our being, even at subconscious levels.
Thus, in a season that calls us into a deeper reality, we should pay close attention to the soundtrack of our lives. We should be intentional about the music we employ in worship.
Sing music that names both our sin and God’s forgiveness. Sing hymns that arise from the wilderness rather than the mountaintops. Play the minor keys, which remind us that the mundane is as sacred as the miraculous.
I encourage you – both as individuals and congregations – to observe the season of Lent, especially in the songs you sing. The major notes of Easter trumpets are heard best by those who have internalized the minor keys.
This is why we sing our way, on the way, all the way to the empty tomb.
Editor’s note: “Eyeing Easter, Walking through Lent,” EthicsDaily.com’s eight-week Lenten Bible study curriculum, is available here.
Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.