A season of contemplation and prayer is now upon us. Lent begins today with Ash Wednesday.

During the 40 days ahead (plus six Sundays), we are given the opportunity to dwell deeply in the life of Jesus. Easter is just around the corner.

But before we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, it is worthwhile to ponder what happened before he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Jumping straight to Easter Sunday without acknowledging Lent isn't bad or wrong. Easter is spectacular no matter how we opt to usher it in.

And yet, Easter without Lent is a little like lemon pie without the meringue. The two belong together. Lent and Easter are two peas in the same holy pod. The coming weeks are a time of thoughtful, meaningful preparation.

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Over the last couple years, we have honored Lent in a variety of ways through this column. The first year of "The Lady Pastor," we explored various faith-related words each Wednesday of the season. Last year, readers shared their favorite Bible verses.

This year, it's all about the verbs! Jesus verbs. A verb is a word that describes an action, state, or occurrence. We often hear about Jesus going out to preach, teach, and heal. But what about some of the other actions he took during his years of ministry?

This year's Lenten series will highlight a variety of biblical verbs used to describe the life and actions of Jesus. I'll use several Bible translations in the process. For a dose of added excitement, we might even delve into a little Greek (the original language the Gospels were written in).

The goal of this year's series is to provide a way to connect with Jesus on a deeper level. Jesus is so well-known and frequently discussed and described, that at times he almost sounds static and one-dimensional. Yet we know there is so much more to uncover. He wasn't an emotionless robot who stuck out his hand to heal people. He wasn't an overly rehearsed religious teacher spouting off endless sermons either.

Meet the real Jesus

Jesus was a real man with real feelings. He took actions with purpose and deep concern. He developed and grew and learned every step of the way.

There are so many layers to Jesus. By exploring the verbs used by the Gospel writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we will gain insights into Jesus' personality and motivations. We will also have the opportunity to connect these "Jesus verbs" to our daily lives. How do the actions of Jesus provide hope and encouragement today?

While we often refer to Jesus in the past tense because the events described in the Bible took place more than 2,000 years ago, we can also talk about him in the present tense. We recognize and celebrate the impact he continues to have on our lives and world.

The schedule for the "Jesus Verbs" series will be:

• March 12: Jesus Calls

• March 19: Jesus Prays

• March 26: Jesus Marvels

• April 2: Jesus Looks

• April 9: Jesus Knows

• April 16: Jesus Restores

Read on

During the coming weeks, I hope you'll take time to locate your own Bible and thumb through the Gospels. What verbs jump out to you? Highlight and underline. Make notes.

Different Bibles translate the original Greek language into a variety of English words. We can learn from them all.

Thank you for joining me for this year's Lenten reflections. I pray that the weeks ahead will be a time of deep nourishment for us all as we explore the Jesus verbs.

The Lady Pastor is a weekly column by Emily Carson, a Lutheran pastor in Stewartville. Visit her blog at: www.emilyannecarson.com.