Thursday, February 8, 2018

People Get Ready: Lent Begins in One Week

This morning, I was stunned to realize that Lent begins in one week.  Didn't we just celebrate Candlemas?  How can this baby in the Temple already be on his way to Calvary?

We're all on our way to our ashy demise.  But along the way we can do more to enrich that journey.  Many of us choose a Lenten discipline.  Many years Lent comes and goes before I can barely register it.

Let's make a list of some ways we can enrich our Lenten journeys. 

I've been thinking about how quickly we move from Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter--and then that long season of Ordinary Time.  I'd like to have more of these special activities for summer too.

But first, Lent 2018.  How will you make this season a time apart?

There are some of the obvious ways:  giving up something for Lent, adding some special readings, or going to an extra church service during the week.  But let's not forget some of the other possibilities too:

Pray in Different Ways:

--Maybe you want to add a visual element to your prayers:  coloring or doodling or collaging.

--Keep a prayer journal and look for ways your prayers are answered.  Write them down so that you'll remember.

--Use prayer beads.  You don't need special beads.  You can string some beads together and use them to remember to pray or to keep track of your prayers.

--Explore ways to use movement as you pray.  Hold a yoga stretch and pray.  Walk a labyrinth.  Dance to show your appreciation to your creator.

Add some creativity to your days:

--Bake bread.  As you shape the bread dough, think about how God shapes you.

--Start a garden.  Or buy several bunches of flowers at the grocery store and arrange them into one bouquet.

----Write a poem about God. But before you start, fill in the following blank 25 times without thinking about it: God is like _______________________.

--Sketch or doodle or collage.

--Choose an art supply that gives you joy.  Use it once a week.

Do More Charity and/or Justice Work:

--Make an extra contribution to your favorite charity. Maybe you could make one extra contribution per week. It doesn’t have to be huge. But it could be.

--Clean out your closets. Give away anything you haven’t worn in the past year. Clean out your kitchen cupboards.

--When you go to the grocery store, buy some extra food for your favorite charity.

--Give some extra time during Lent. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food pantry. Go to a nursing home and sing some old Gospel songs. Think about the people you know who have lives that are falling apart; buy cards or write notes and put them in the mail.

Do Less

--Here's a radical idea.  What if our Lenten discipline was to do less?  Many years, the thought of adopting a Lenten discipline makes me want to cry because it feel like one more impossible promise I'm making to myself and God.  What if we resisted the cultural and Christian pressure to do more, more, more.  What if we consciously tried to do less?  Would we clear space in our lives to finally know what's really important to us?

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