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“…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 baptized 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 

Friends, 

James KA Smith writes in his masterful book How to Inhabit Time: “The liturgical calendar rehearses the way time curves and bends around the incarnate Christ like a temporal center of gravity. Every year, the Church walks with Jesus towards Gethsemane, bears witness to his anguish and suffering, steps again into the chilled shadow of the cross, lives with the harrowing silence of Holy Saturday, and arrives on Easter morning to witness the explosion of light that is the resurrection of the Song of God. For those unfamiliar with liturgical time, this will seem to be a recipe for boredom. It is perhaps misunderstood as if the point were simple to remind us of what happened, as if the liturgical calendar were merely a memorial device. But it is something more enchanted than that: it is an invitation into the event, an experience of Kierkegaardian contemporaneity. When, in a tenebrae service on Good Friday, candles are extinguished with each of Christ’s last words from the cross and the shadows benign to swallow us, we are not invited to merely remember a “historical event.” We are invited to inhabit time in such a way that we are there and then. Perhaps we could say that the Christian inhabits time as cyclical and linear, like light is both particle and wave.” 

So this year, we aren’t just remembering, we are inhabiting. This inhabiting is reflected in our practices and rhythms, rituals and emotions. 

“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  

To help with these practices, here are some resources and suggestions. 

Grace and peace, y’all, 

John Ray and the Grace teaching team

 

Resources: 

Key Dates for Lent this year

  • February 14: Ash Wednesday  
  • March 24: Palm Sunday
  • March 29: Good Friday 
  • March 31: Easter 

Subscribe to this project and make space to use it each day

The Lent Project by the Biola University Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts

Choose one of these books and use it throughout Lent. 

Make a playlist for Lent. Start here if you need inspiration: 

This is one of my go-tos 


Family Resources 

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. 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 associated 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 to 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 a friend, your family or Table Fellowship. Include specific times when you will connect 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. 

“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

 

 

1. Note, Sundays, or which ever day you take a Sabbath, are “days off” from our Lenten disciplines.

 2. Classics include Celebration of Discipline, Spirit of the Disciplines and Sacred Rhythms   

 

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Grace Church of Northwest Arkansas is a nondenominational community of Christ-followers committed to loving others, living out the Gospel and serving in Jesus’ name. We stand with the marginalized and welcome folks of all races, genders, and sexual orientations.

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