Lent

The word “lent” is derived from an old English word for the season of “spring.” It is the 40 days, (not counting Sundays), before Easter. The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday gets it name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of believers as a sign of repentance.  (The ashes used are the ones gathered after the palm leaves from Palm Sunday are burned).  For some Christians, Lent is traditionally a period of fasting and repentance in preparation for Easter.  

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Lenton Journal

We invite you to join us on a journey of reflection during this season of lent.  We have Lenton Journals available for download here (or printed versions located at the church).  


Please click the link below  to download your journal

Lenten_Journal_Dates.pdf

Spiritual Practices and Resources

During the Lenton season, we are inviting everyone join us in weekly spiritual challenges.  Below you will find the brief explanations and resources of those spiritual disciplines and practices. 

  • Joshua 1:8  

    8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

     

    Practice:  

    • Choose a passage of Scripture to read aloud, slowly, attentively, once through.  Pause and let the passage sink in.   Resist a familiar understanding even of a familiar passage.  Allow yourself to hear the story anew.  The word of God is living in active ready to speak to you.
    • Reread the passage, piece by piece.  Note the story line and questions raised.  Again, resist the familiar interpretation.  Look for a word or two in the story.  Explore the passage the way a child might explore a strange room in curiosity and openness.
    • Read the passage a third time. What word or words jump out at you, commanding your attention?  Stay with that.  Think about it and chew on it.  Is God speaking a personal word for you today?  

    Questions to ask:

    • How do these words and images connect in your life today?
    • How is your story part of the Biblical story? 
    • How do its questions connect with your questions?  Feel free to write down your answers.

    You may find that in response to new insights, new ways of acting in familiar situations will present themselves.  You may even be troubled by portions of scripture that leave you confused, or uneasy.  Note theses and write them down, they may prove valuable in ways that are not immediately obvious.


    • When you are finished close with a prayer.  Give thanks, and invite God’s presence into your life and work through you, to bear fruit for Him.  


    With any discipline, such as playing an instrument or learning a new language, beginnings are awkward.  Stay with it.  Give it time and practice.  The artificiality of the discipline will fade, giving way to familiarity and fluency. 

  • Colossians 3:16

    16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 

      

    The Psalms in scripture were actual songs sung by the people of God, many of which, were sung as they made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem or other places along the way.  You can sing the Psalms , or listen to others sing them as you sing along and reflect on the words and that are conveyed about God, (His might, strength, power, comfort, presence), or about our own lives, (where we fit in God’s story, of rescue, deliverance, forgiveness). 


    Songs can be used to help us “pray without ceasing” through our day and keep our focus on God.  

     

    Here are just a few samples and links you can find of Psalms sung for you to listen, sing along with, and reflect.  

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo3HgtT_OiE

    Psalm 23 Shane & Shane “Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy”

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG_y6X2K_dM

    Psalm 91 Shane & Shane

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kORVVNHHUY

    Sunia Gibbs “There is a River” Psalm 46

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA47_QaSKgY

    “The Lord’s Prayer” Bill & Gloria Gaither

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYs4baSxdFA

    Corner Room “Psalm 127” and many others

    Cornerroommusic.com

     

    “Mary’s song” Luke 1:46-55,  Leah Benn

  • Deuteronomy 6:6, 8-9

     6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

     

    Practice: Understanding that art can be used to help us see the scripture more clearly and can be used in prayer to help us focus on God…

    • find a Christian work of art or a Biblical scene that resonates with you, or illustrates a passage of scripture that you are currently reading or love.  
      • (Remember: Movies and shows are also part of the new art form.  Series like “The Chosen” make the stories of Jesus come alive and can speak and invoke our hearts toward action.)  
    • In a posture open to hear from God, what do you see when you look at the art?  Note details, colors, the feel of the whole image. 
    • Reflect on the art using your objective, observational skills, 
    • Reflect on the art using your emotional, subjective gut response?  Who do you relate to or where are you in the painting?  What does it make you think about? How does it point you to God or bring to life a biblical truth? 
    • Now in a spirit of prayer ask God what he might be saying to you and how he might be inspiring to you to an action.  


      EXAMPLE:

    A painting of a group of people

Description automatically generated with medium confidence


    Climbing the Mountain of Transfiguration

    • What do you see when you gaze on this picture? What details/colors/shading stand out to you?  
    • Describe the details and the whole using your objective, observational skills
    • What’s your gut response? What is your emotional, subjective response?  Who do you relate to or where are you in the painting?  With the disciples?  With the crowd? The confused boy?
    • Now what? What do you want/need to do about it? What are you inspired to do about what you see?  What is God wanting to say to you?


  • Psalm 19:1-4

    The heavens declare the glory of God;
        the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

     

    It was Paul who wrote that “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature can be clearly seen from what has been made” (Rom. 1:20).  At Creation, God spoke nature into existence and nature now testifies back to the goodness, greatness, and even love and care of God.  “Look at the lilies of the field,” (Matt. 6:28) Jesus tells us and see how God not only takes care of them but how He takes care of us.  

     

    Practice:

    • Go out into nature, whether it be on a camping trip, a short hike, or even sitting in the Prayer Garden at the Church. 
      • Remember in these places, the noisy voices of the world can be silenced, making room for God to speak.  In these places, like the Garden of Gethsemane, is where we can cry out and pray to God and listen for His response.  
    • Look around and see the beauty of God’s creation and reflect on God.  
      • What is God trying to tell you about your place in the universe?  
      • About your worries and fears?  About the chaos you sometimes feel?
      • Reflect on Him and let Him lead you to both assurance and action that He is there and working.   
    • Consider taking the word of God with you.  Reading or listening to it in a “natural” environment might invoke new insights and understanding. 
  • “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You have I sinned and done what's evil in Your sight, so that You're proved right when You speak and justified when You judge. Surely I've been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I'll be clean, wash me, and I'll be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You.

    Amen. 

  • Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. 

    Amen.


  • At least 5 times a day, pray:

    "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

    See how it changes your perspective to one of dependance upon God, while also giving you mercy for others

  • Please check later for organized events to help minister to our brother and sisters in Christ

  • Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
    where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy. 

    O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
    to be consoled as to console,
    to be understood as to understand,
    to be loved as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive, 
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
    Amen.

  • During the season of Lent, we often are called to fast.  Throughout Scripture we see how fasting is an important spiritual discipline in the life of the believer. Moses fasted for 40 days and nights as he received the 10 commandments from God (Exodus 34:28), we see several times where the Israelites come together as a community to fast before God in repentance or in seeking God’s intervention (Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12-13, Ezra 8:21-23)), and most importantly, our Lord and Savior participated in this discipline as he fasted for 40 days and nights in the desert (Luke 4:2-4).  And while, He warned against fasting in the wrong attitude and with the wrong motive, Jesus emphasized that the believers would be called to fast while he was away and we were anticipating his return (Matthew 6:16-18, Mark 2:19-20). 


    Fasting is often misunderstood, and so in many ways has become a lost discipline in the life of the church.  While fasting in its most technical sense is the act of sacrificing food, the heart of the purpose of fasting is the discipline of sacrifice. In reality, we can fast anything, and for some, as they recognize what they want to sacrifice for the Lord, they recognize that coupled with the act of giving up of something, they are called to add a spiritual discipline in its stead.  No matter what is sacrificed or added, fasting is meant to be a way of sharing that we depend on God alone and that we draw all our strength and resources from him; it’s a way of focusing totally on him when seeking his guidance and help, and of showing that you really are in earnest in your quest; it’s also, at times, an expression of sorrow and deep repentance, something that a person or community will do in order to acknowledge failure before God and seek his mercy.  


    Fasting is difficult.  At the core of this spiritual discipline is self-denial.  As we go against our very nature, we will find that we struggle.  Many jump into a fast with great expectations, only to find they are confronted by their own weakness.  And yet, it is in the struggle, in the moments when our bellies rumble, our thoughts turn to that thing we have given up, and our flesh is weak, that we make the choice to seek God, to remember that our sacrifice is for His honor, and that He alone will be our source of strength.  And so, remember that a fast is not meant to be about our strength or will, but about dependence upon God even when we are weak and our will is broken.  We must also remember that a fast is not a way to earn God’s favor, rather it is a way to experience God’s presence, grace, mercy and forgiveness more deeply.  


    Before each of us enters into a spiritual fast, it’s important to first assess our current spiritual state:


    What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health?

    To what material things am I too attached?

    What areas in my life are unbalanced?

    To what do I devote too much or not enough time?


    Only after asking questions like these are we are ready to prayerfully seek what to give up or what to add to our lives- most especially during this upcoming season of Lent.  The following are just a few suggestions meant to aid in the process.  These suggestions are by no means meant to be exclusive and the intensity, length and strictness of the fast should be guided by the Holy Spirit alone.


    Examples of fasting of Food

    Give up or candy/ sweets

    Give up or limit soda/ coffee/ other drinks

    Give up snacks between meals

    Give up a or limit certain types of food (bread, meats, processed foods, etc.)

    Fast a whole meal

    Fast from sun-up to sun-down one day (this can be a fast of all food, or allowing crackers and water/juice)

    Fast for an extended period of time (this can be a fast of all food, following a strict diet (for example a Daniel Fast), or allowing only crackers and water/juice)


    Examples of fasting Media

    Give up or limit social media (Facebook/ Twitter/ Snap Chat etc.) for a certain length of time

    Give up or limit TV time or certain TV shows/stations (i.e. sports, news, prime time)

    Give up or limit internet blogs or sites

    Give up texting for a certain length of time

    Give up or limit video games

    Give up or limit online time

    Drive in the car with no radio (consider filling that silence with prayer)

    Replace secular music with Christian or classical music for the 40 days of Lent


    Examples of fasting Material Things

    Fast any shopping for non essentials these 40 days and pray for how God may want you give the saved money to others. 

    Give up fast food and give the money to charity.

    Go through your closet/house and look for items you value that you can donate to charity or give to others

    Fast trips to the movies and/or going out to eat and pray for how God may want you to give the saved money to others

    If you are not already doing so, choose to add the discipline of tithing during Lent.  If you already tithe, choose to go out on faith an increase your tithe by what God lays on your heart

    Think of some large item that you want and instead of purchasing it, donate the money or give to others.


    For those who would like to focus on Gratitude

    Each week, write a letter of thanks to leaders or spiritual mentors in your life

    Each week write a thank-you note to various members of your family

    Get a stack of sticky-notes and write one sentence of thanks each day and stick it to the bedroom door of each person in your family so that by Easter they each have 40 sticky-notes.

    Find the Psalms of Thanksgiving or Praise in the Bible and pray them.

    Write a list of the ways God has blessed you and add to it each day. This could be done in a notebook or on a big poster hanging on your wall.


    For those who would like to focus on Spiritual Balance in their life

    Go for a walk each day with a loved one and talk about life and faith.

    Spend at least half an hour each day in meaningful conversation with your spouse/ children or closest friend- speaking blessing

    Give up your most unhealthy habit.

    Choose to spend 15 minutes in silence with God

    Take a walk in your neighborhood and spend the time praying for your neighbors

    Fast an activity or pastime and use the time to join a Bible study or prayer group

    Fast a part of your morning or bedtime routine and to that saved time, add a time of devotion and prayer


    For those who would like to focus more on Service to the Needy or Poor

    Fast some of your time and Volunteer at soup kitchen or other mission program. 

    Fast some of your time and find out who in our church is sick and offer to visit them or bring them food.

    Fast some of your time and begin making visits to a nursing home.

    Fast some of your time and help an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood with yard work or other difficult chores.

    Fast some of your time and write letters or visit one of our church shut-ins