Simple patterns give God space to touch our hearts. The companionship of a church family transforms the experience. We love Lent and live Lent through our senses and in our choices. A plan for being gives us a reason for doing. How do you want to be during Lent this year?
- More quiet and thoughtful?
- More open to God’s desires?
- More attentive to sacred readings, whether in church or in private?
- More compassionate toward my own (or others) fears and failings?
- More courageous about using the gifts God has given me?
- More respectful, honorable, prudent, or honest; forgiving, authentic, kind or gracious; thankful, tactful, empathetic, assertive, cooperative; available, generous, committed, humble?
- More appreciative of God’s love and a desire to share it with others?
- What does your soul need? Ask, and wait quietly.
- What brings you joy? Though times we “miss the mark” may grieve our God’s heart, our growth in love, freedom, and kindness bring joy to the God of the universe.
Help something meaningful enfold during Lent by –
- Begin by celebrating Shrove Tuesday – These Shrove Tuesday Tidbits help you celebrate at home with pancakes!
- Embrace Ash Wednesday. This Ash Wednesday Meditation with Clay sets a tone for Lent. If you’d like to set this day or others aside to prepare only one full, meaningful, and symbolic meal these meatless recipe suggestions may help!
- Fast. Christ taught it and practiced it. Fasting is abstaining wholly or partially from all or certain foods, for physical or spiritual health. As a spiritual discipline, fasting is an act of contrition, cleansing, and preparation. The Book of Common Prayer recommends fasting for the season of Lent, which Christians should observe “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Word” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 265).
- Practice Abstinence. Abstinence involves the elimination of a particular food, beverage, or activity throughout the entire season. Abstaining from meat, sweets, coffee, or alcohol are common Lenten practices, though some give up television, games, or social networking for the Forty Days. Others make a deliberate effort to abstain from negative attitudes such as fear, worry, or criticizing others.
- Get and give support. Lent is not something we need to do alone, rather it is transformed through fellowship. Sign up to attend an online or in-person series at your church home that speaks to your heart and supports your Lenten intentions. You might also encourage a friend to join you in watching and discussing Life Transformed – The Way of Love in Lent.
- Establish simple patterns. Begin using a natural, uncomplicated way of checking in with God as the day begins and ends, asking for grace to plan and move through the days ahead honoring a Lenten intent. God understands the Spirit speaking through simple words.
- Be in Service to Others. We can become more like Jesus during Lent by being generous with our time or talents. Is there a local organization that addresses the needs in your community you’ve been wanting to explore, Lent is a good time to take a step in their direction. Go above and beyond.
- Give Alms. Set a container out in a place you can’t miss it as a reminder to contribute something each day. Children can contribute by decorating the container or adding money that would have otherwise been spent on “junk” food or toys as a symbol of sacrifice.
Bring symbols into the home that encourage your practices and help shape the way Lent unfolds.
- a small bowl of water or a shell reminds us of our baptism.
- sand reminds us we’re all on a journey,
- candles are a reminder of God’s presence and light.
- the presence of a Bible represents a desire for God’s Word in our life
- a crucifix can be a powerful, stirring reminder of God’s love
- a symbol of our almsgiving focuses on our solidarity with those in need
Lent is a time for cultivating spiritual disciplines— taking something on that fosters spiritual growth. Engage in regular Prayer and Meditation.
- Build in time for the Daily Examen or use the Daily Examen at Home with Children
- Centering Prayer practice can be used with scripture, music, art, movies, writing, body movement, walking, and in nature.
- Sign up to join in Daily Meditations online through Episcopal Relief & Development, Forward Movement Day by Day, d365, or Living Compass.
- Attend Stations of the Cross meditations at your church, Way of the Cross from Everything Holy, or another version online that speaks to you. If there are young children, Praying the Stations with Children might be helpful.
For households with children
- Check out Lenten Devotions and Books for Families
- Lenten Cross Calendar in English and Spanish
- Engage the family in prayer using Prayer Sticks
- The Lord’s Prayer Tracing Cross is a great activity
This season, open the door a bit more, let go of more stuff, listen better. Do more quickly and with greater passion, those things we know help nurture God’s kingdom. Imagine God transforming your life, giving you a greater sense of freedom and joy, a lighter spirit, and filling you with a deeper desire for love and service.