"Lent” might make more sense as a northern hemisphere term. That side of the earth moves from shorter days to longer days – the movement to their springtime. It refers to a time of lengthening light.
The word, “Lent,” which is also the past tense of the word, “Lend,” refers to something that is given in order that this ‘something’ will be returned
It is no doubt that we speak of Jesus as God’s gift to the world. John 3:16 states quite clearly, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (NRSV)
The notion of ‘gift’ is never understood as something which the recipient, in good faith, could ever fail to respond to. One can but, this would show no respect to the giver. Last Tuesday, we heard in the first reading from Isaiah 55:10-11, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (NRSV)
God ‘lends’ the rain; God ‘lends’ the snow; God ‘lends’ the opportunity for growth; God ‘lends’ his Word, Jesus, who does not fail him. It is an interesting way of thinking about God’s gifting. Is it lent, or is it given, or is it both?
A person of faith will see God ‘gifts’ as something ‘lent’ to the point where we can never ignore the gift. God calls for something from each of us.
Our season of Lent is given that we might enter more deeply into an appreciation of the gift of God’s only Son – a movement from darkness to light. What lengthens for us in this season of Lent is an ever deepening appreciation of God’s gifts to us as we discipline ourselves through these days of fasting, almsgiving and prayer to give back something of ourselves in order that we might complete the process of God’s gifting and our response of giving back.