Lent 2020–It’s a Nice Song, but Hard to Sing

There are a number of “wise” sayings of my maternal grandfather that have been passed down in the family lore. One he was particularly fond of (especially in reference to hymns on those occasions when my saintly grandmother could get him to church) was, “It’s a nice song, but hard to sing.”

We all know songs like this. The Star Spangled Banner comes to mind. Let it Go from Frozen is another. And, to be fair to my grandfather, quite a number of hymns fit this bill.

The readings for Lent in the Narrative lectionary caused this saying to bubble up in me. Collectively, they are the Biblical equivalent of nice songs that are hard to sing. In other words, they’re easy to read, but hard to live out.

Take a look.

Lent 1: Give all your money to the poor.

Lent 2: Whoever wishes to be great must become a servant

Lent 3: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

Lent 4: Love your neighbor. Spoiler alert: everyone is your neighbor.

Lent 5: You know not the day of the hour. Keep awake. (Modern translation: put down that phone and pay attention!)

Lent this year is full of tunes that initially seem familiar and comfortable, but further reflection is bound to lead to some discomfort, conviction and possibly some squirming.

So be on the look out for more info on how we’ll follow these storylines of Lent that will lead down the path to Easter.


Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer is an online, inclusive and progressive Christian community. Follow us on Facebook and get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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