Lent Practices for Grace Church 2021
“...Lent is about preparation and expectation. What we prepare for, and what we expect, is the risen Lord trampling down death, by death.’ Lent is a beautiful invitation for us to travel with the Lord into Jerusalem, to once again live out our baptism where we have been baptised into Christ’s death, to go with Him through that experience and rise with Him once again into the new life of the Church.” - Alicia Britt Chole
If ever we needed Easter, it’s this year. A time to focus on the resurrection of Jesus and all that means for this broken and longing world. But it also might feel like the last thing we need is Lent. Who wants to focus any more on the darkness than we have to? Don’t we have enough of that already? Isn’t there enough “bad news” swirling all around us now?
The short answer is no. It’s one thing to be “surrounded” by bad news, it’s another thing to face it, to own our part, to confess our complicity and to actively practice repentance. This is the only way to truly prepare for Easter, this is the only way to truly deal with the brokenness in a way that leads to healing.
This year at Grace we’re asking everyone to intentionally engage in Lenten practices. Specifically, in this year where most of us are practicing social distancing for the safety of others, we’re asking each person to connect with a Lent partner or small handful of people and commit to practices that each person will follow. Doing this with a partner or small group is especially important during this time when so many feel isolated.
Included here are resources and suggested practices to include in our observation and practice of Lent.
“Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault- finding or finger-pointing but because he wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things he now has in store.” ― N.T. Wright
Key Dates for Lent this year:
February 17: Ash Wednesday
March 28 Palm Sunday
April 9 Good Friday
April 4 Easter
Subscribe to this project and make space to use it each day
The Lent Project by the Biola University Center for Christianiy, Culture and the Arts
Choose one of these books and use it throughout Lent.
Bread and Wine Devotion for Lent and Easter
A Way Other Than Our Own by Walter Bruggemann
40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole
The Word in the Wilderness: A poem a day for Lent and Easter by Malcom Guite
Prayer: Forty Days of Practices by Scott Erickson and Justin McRoberts
Make a playlist for Lent. Start here if you need inspiration:
Porters Gate Lament Songs
Traditionally, Lent is a time for prayer, sacrifice, and giving. Here are a few ideas for your family to intentionally practice these spiritual disciplines:
Get three plastic or glass jars and items to decorate them. You might use stickers, permanent markers, or other items. Label one Prayers, one Sacrifice, and one Giving. Talk with your children about the importance of this season in the church calendar in remembering Jesus and the journey to new life.
Decide as a family how you can be better at praying. Maybe you can put the prayer jar on your table and write down prayers as you place them in the jar, or you could try making generic prayer categories by writing “family,” “those who are lonely,” etc. on wooden sticks and pulling them out of the jar each night.
Talk about making sacrifices. You might give up something you enjoy, such as candy or a certain game, or possibly, you might give up something you enjoy as a family. You could talk about the many sacrifices people are making as we live in this pandemic: from wearing masks to spacing apart from people, our sacrifices are in hope of a future outcome. Record your sacrifices on paper and place them in the jar, or write some ideas for things you could give up during the coming week and have individuals draw them out of the jar.
For the giving jar, talk about how your family could grow in giving in this season. Most of us don’t carry as many coins around, so filling a jar with loose change might not be a useful way to encourage giving. Maybe you can pick some projects such as filling a Little Free Pantry, Little Free Library, or donating used toys to Potter’s House or the toy box outside the pantry at Good Shepherd Lutheran, and write those projects on paper slips or wooden sticks, drawing out one or two each week. Sacrifice and giving go hand-in-hand. Talk about sacrificing something as a family that will allow you to give more generously.
In some faith traditions, families color a graphic “Alleluia” and have the children bury it under some rocks in a spot that will be undisturbed inside their house. (Maybe under some rocks on a platter, with a small potted plant on top) Then, on Easter morning, they “roll away” the rocks and rejoice in the Alleluias.
Next, adopt a practice.
There are countless resources describing various disciplines associate with Lent. A few of the most practiced are: fasting (food, speaking, social media, activities, certain hobbies, etc...), resting, sacrificial giving, and confession.
The goal is not stop a bad habit, but to sacrificially pay attention by giving up things that are perfectly fine for the purpose of giving more attention to the Spirit of God working in us. Your practice could include adding more of something like time in your devotions, prayer, service for others or taking a retreat.
Finally, write your practice out and share it with your Lent partner or group. Include specific times when you will connect (safely) with your partner or group and pray together and check in with each other on how your practice is going. Include a commitment to observe and participate in the key activities we will observe together, safely and in accordance with health guidelines.
Through all this, the purpose of it is to till the soil of our lives, to ready our hearts and focus our minds on the promise of resurrection we will celebrate on Easter. And like I said at this beginning, if ever there was a year we needed Easter, it’s this one.
Grace and peace y’all,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3