By Lilly Lewin–
Some times we need new eyes to see, or maybe just a new pair of glasses.
Traditionally Lent is a season of penance, repentance, and preparation for Easter.
A season of fasting, giving alms, and remembering what Jesus did leading up to his crucifixion. The 40 days are based on the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism.
Lent was the time that new followers went through extensive preparation for baptism and reception into the church. (the whole process took a year! And during lent the rest of the community would join the new believers in remembering what Jesus did and preparing themselves, renewing their commitments.)
It’s the season in the Episcopal Church where we bury the alleluia (the actual word isn’t said in our services until Easter and then the word is resurrected. Lent is the Fast after Fat Tuesday.
I used to get in to trouble at Christ Church because I would say “celebrate lent” and be too enthusiastic about the season, rather than serious and sour.
I do believe in seasons and times of repentance. I do believe that it’s helpful to remember the last days of Jesus life, and to spend time pondering and meditating on what his death on the cross means. I don’t want to take away from the sacredness of the season, rather, I want us to find more in Lent than obligation and tradition.
Too many of us (if we traditionally observe the season) have viewed Lent as a chore, or just another thing to do or that “the SHOULD lady” says that I should do. Some of us never got what Lent was for in the first place. One of the questions that folks ask one another, at least in the Episcopal church, is “What are you giving up for Lent?” So the point seemed to be giving stuff up rather than connecting with Jesus.
Maybe you’ve given up desserts or coffee or something like this for Lent. Did this bring you closer to Jesus or did it just make you angry? Father Ed Hays says that we need to fall love with Jesus during Lent, rather than just getting angry or more hungry.
If we give up something maybe it should be selfishness, or divisiveness, or bitterness.
So what’s my point…? Maybe you didn’t even know that it was Ash Wednesday next week. Maybe you’ve never “done” lent. Whatever your background or experience, or lack of experience with the whole Lenten Season, I want to challenge and encourage each of us to see the next 40 days as an exciting opportunity. A great adventure!.. a season to anticipate rather than something to dread or gloss over.
We might need new glasses to see Lent in a new way. Here are the New Lenten Glasses: NEW Ways to view the 40 days before Easter:
1. Seeing Lent as a HONEYMOON: What if we saw the next 40 days as an opportunity to take a Honeymoon with Jesus, an opportunity to fall more in Love with Jesus between now and Easter.
What if we saw the Lenten Season as a time to fall in love with the Savior…a time to discover, or rediscover, His great love for you and me just as we are?
This could be a season to take time away from the daily rat race and actually have a date with God. Could you spend 15 minutes, an hour, a day, a weekend? How long do you need to rekindle passion? What would you do on a date with Jesus? Plan a daily or weekly date with Jesus during Lent. Check out Lenten Hobo Honeymoon and 40 Days toward Love.
2. Looking at Lent as an ADVENTURE: Create a map for the Next 40 days. Look at your calendar, or on your phone. Where do you want to go this Lenten season? Even if you’ve never observed Lent before, you can choose to be on an adventure with God each day. It is a Lenten Pilgrimage: A journey of discovery….What do you want to discover about Jesus in the coming weeks? Where does God want to take you? Who do you want to go with you? What does an adventure with God look like to you? What kind of adventures can you plan with Jesus during this Lenten season? Can you learn about the refugees in your community, serve the homeless in your area? Take a hike on a regular basis during the season and let God speak to you through what you see, hear and notice on your journey. What would kind of adventure would you design? Take time to plan it out. Include your family, roommates, small group etc.
3. Approaching Lent ARTISTICALLY.
Create something each day or every few days during Lent as a practice that connects you to Jesus. Draw, sketch, paint something each day, or create a collage that you add to each day during Lent.
Use Art or images to connect you to Jesus. Try the ones in Prayer: 40 Days of Practice
or go to a gallery or art museum or travel to one on line.
Use Photography…take a photo a day and post it on social media or just use it to pray with or journal from it.
Rethinkchurch is hosting a photo a day for Lent you can find prompts here and check them out on instagram:
4. Creating a Garden and//or an Altar Space with things that help you remember and connect with God. What images or items would you include on your altar space? You might have photos of people to pray for or a map of the world or small globe to remind you to pray for the world. What plants would you plant? Check out the many succulent prayer gardens that Christine has created.
Create your own garden, plant some bulbs or seeds inside and watch them grow. Start a garden outside if that’s possible in your area. Allow the process of preparing the soil to be a prayer practice during the season of Lent. What does God want to grow in you this Lenten Season? What does God need to prune? What weeds need to go? What new plants need to grow?
5. SEEING LENT AS A SEASON OF SUBTRACTING THINGS. Do less rather than doing More! Maybe the activities and actions listed above make you crazy! Maybe your heart and mind cannot bear one more thing. Maybe this Lenten season you need to subtract things rather than adding things to your life. Maybe you need to turn off the phone, the TV, the computer and just be quiet. Maybe you need to take naps as a spiritual practice. Or take walks, or long bubble baths or showers where you can clear your mind and enjoy the silence. Allow Jesus to love you in the quiet. Allow Jesus to love you and give you peace and an empty calendar for Lent.
For more ways to connect with Lent and for practices to try for Shrove Tuesday next week check out my freerangeFriday post from last year. Beginning Lent with Butter and Syrup
I’d love to hear where Lent takes you this year! Also, if you do choose to give up something this Lent, remember that
Sunday’s are really feast days, so technically you can have whatever you gave up on Sunday’s during the Lenten season.
Excellent suggestions on new ways to approach, and benefit from, Lent.