When I was little, I found Lent somber and rather scary. Wednesday nights, we had to bundle up (it was Connecticut) and trudge to church in the cold, often snowy, dark. The music and readings were ominous, the sermons were prescriptive. Easter glowed, like the promise it is, at the distant end of this forty-day-long tunnel of gloom.

But in the years since, the Lutheran Church has learned to love Lent – and so have I. Our denomination has opened up the season, encouraging us to take heart in the lessons and disciplines of Lent we embrace joyfully as children of God. And our congregation celebrates the season in a unique, laughter-filled manner, still honoring everything this time represents.

This year, with the first Sunday of Lent coinciding with Valentine’s Day, it seems all the more appropriate to examine the reasons we should love Lent. So let’s begin this year’s observance by renewing a vow to the Lord: May we love Lent because it is a season of love.

The Lenten journey honors the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, wrestling with the temptations Satan offered Him, so our traditional focus on overcoming temptation is understandable. But when we remember that Jesus endured – and triumphed over – temptation as a profession of love for His Father and for all God’s children, we can see those days in a new light. We can apply ourselves to a new Lenten discipline, offering God’s love to all those who need it – to friends and family, to strangers, and even to ourselves. We can seek out ways to show people they are not alone, that they are loved and valued by a Lord who would suffer anything to keep them safe. We can remind ourselves that we are loved and valued by our amazing Savior.

Emulating His love honors His sacrifice, and feeds a world hungry for it. Let us all honor Him by finding moments in our observances to love Lent by sharing His love.

“Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name. He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

Psalm 91:14-16