Posted by: Philip Rushton | February 10, 2016

A Guide To A Meaningful Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent.  Lent is a season in the life of the church that marks the 40 days that lead up to Easter. Historically, Lent has been a time when many people return to the various practices of the Christian faith. We do this not as an obligation or as a means of earning God’s love; instead, these practices are ways to focus on God, experience freedom from unhealthy attachments, stand in solidarity with the poor, and journey with Jesus to the cross.  The following resource provides you with some suggestions for how you might make this season a meaningful time of spiritual renewal. 

Prepare:

 Take some time to reflect on this guide and write out how you want to approach this season. Intentionality is key. I’d encourage you to write out what you intend to do this Lent or put things on your calendar.  You can also prepare for the season by setting up visual symbols at home or work. Ideas:

  • Wear a cross
  • Set out a candle to be lit during meals or during prayer time.
  • Put out an open bible on your coffee table.

Pray:

Consider setting aside a time each day to pray and meditate on scripture. Ideas:

  • Choose a gospel and read a section of it each day during Lent. Other appropriate texts for Lent include the minor prophets or Exodus 1-20.
  • Listen to the daily podcast: pray-as-you-go.org
  • Take a one-day prayer retreat.  I have a guide you can use if you’d like to borrow one.

 Fast:

Fasting is about restoring life-giving limits. It is a spiritual practice that aims to set us free from idolatry and addiction and help us remember God and remember the poor. Ideas:

  • Try out a media fast one day a week where you go without cell phones, T.V., and Internet.
  • Eat a simpler diet in order to stand in solidarity with the poor. For example you might give up eating seconds at meals, or eat a diet of beans and rice one day a week. 
  • Give something up for the entire Lenten season
  • Give up breakfast and lunch on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday

Feast:

Traditionally, Sundays are considered feast days during Lent and do not count towards the 40 days. Take Sundays to break your fast and celebrate God’s goodness and mercy. Perhaps you might invite friends over for a feast.  Practicing feast days in the midst of the Lenten fast helps restore a helpful balance in our spiritual life.

Give:

While lent is often talked about as a time to give things up, Isaiah 58 reminds us that the fast God desires is for us to actively pursue justice for those in need. How might you reach out? Ideas:

  • Donate 5 items to charity
  • Volunteer at a non-profit
  • Abstain from a luxury item and use those funds to support a charity.
  • Consider supporting the Syrian refugee crisis this year. We will be hosting a local couple from Syria on March 13 to raise awareness about the crisis

Journey With Others:
This Lent I am going to be leading a group that will work through Chris Seay’s Lenten devotional, A Place At The Table: 40 days of solidarity with the poor.  We are going to begin on Wednesday Feb. 17 in the journey room following simple suplace-at-the-tablepper.  This devotional leads us through the story of Exodus. As we follow the Israelites through their journey of liberation from oppression we will explore what our own journey of liberation looks like, and how we are called to stand in solidarity with others who are suffering in our world.  If you can’t join us on Wednesday I have some extra copies of this resource in my office.

 

 

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