Lent is still over a month away. It official begins with Ash Wednesday – this year on February 17th. However as I know that many churches and small groups are already thinking about what materials they will use for this season I thought that I would make you aware of the resources that we have available through Mustard Seed Associates. I also want to challenge you to take Lent seriously this year, not just reflecting on what we need to give up but really taking some serious steps to follow Jesus in new and deeper ways this year.
First you may like to join me with a reflection on this blog. I am planning a series entitled Walking to the Cross: Why Don’t We Follow? I already have several people signed up for guest posts but want to give an open invitation for those who read this blog to participate too. So if you are interested let me know.
Also last year we had over 1500 people download the Lenten guideA Journey Into Wholeness but to be honest I was a little frustrated because it seemed to me that most of those who used the guide only reflected on the challenges we proposed and did not participate in the activities suggested for each week.
The guide is designed to be used as a group study guide with the intention that members of the group encourage each other to maintain serious disciplines throughout the Lenten season. Each week includes a reflection and suggestions for a weekly litany.
So this year I hope that some of you will join me once again not just in meditating on the reflections in this guide but in seriously entering into the activities that engage us in the brokenness of God’s world. Here is a sneak preview of the weekly challenges
First Week of Lent: Journey into the Brokenness of Our Inner Selves
Challenge: –Take time each day to read a chapter from a book on spiritual disciplines, such as Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. In what way could you help each other maintain this discipline?
Second Week of Lent: Journey into the Brokenness of Hunger
Challenge: Take the $2 challenge and restrict your food budget to $2/person per day for a week. Donate the money that you save to an organization that works with the poor. (the guide includes a suggested menu plan)
Third Week of Lent: Journey into the Brokenness of Homelessness
Challenge: Get permission to visit a homeless encampment or refugee settlement if there is one in your area. Spend at least a couple of hours working with refugees or the homeless
Fourth Week of Lent: Journey into the Brokenness of Creation
Fifth Week of Lent: Journey into the Brokenness of God’s Family
Challenge: get together with someone in your church who has a different theological perspective than your own. Make this specifically a time to listen to their ideas and learn from their understanding of faith.
Holy Week: Journey from Palm Sunday to the Cross
Challenge: Get permission to cordon off the road in front of the church and plan a BBQ or meet in the local park. Then on Palm Sunday do a procession through the neighborhood and invite people again to make sure that they know they are included. Don’t neglect the marginalized people in your community. Make a point of visiting the local homeless shelter, or visit the local senior care facility and bring out the people in wheelchairs for the feast.
Here is the Lenten reflection I produced last year. I hope to produce another one in the next few weeks but in case I do not find the time I hope that you will enjoy this instead
A high resolution version suitable for use in churches and with larger groups can be purchased and downloaded from Mustard Seed Resources This Lenten reflection acknowledges the brokenness of our lives and in our world and encourages us to find repentance through Christ.
Featured Music: “O Redemptor” from the CD “Prayers of St. Brendan” by Jeff Johnson
℗© 2011 Ark Records, http://ArkMusic.com
Used with permission. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Last but not least I suggest that you develop a serious bible reading discipline during this season. Here are some possible sources for obtaining the daily lectionary readings used in various traditions