Lent 2015

18 Feb

ash-wednesday_t

Forgiving God,

Empty me of my self-sufficient ways and hopes

and pour into me your spirit of repentance.

Create within me the unquenchable desire to forgive

even as I have been forgiven by you.

Lead me to the depths of my heart,

where I can ponder the nature of your holy love. – Maren Tirabassi

Today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our Lenten season…a journey to the cross…and the resurrection of Christ on the other side. I love this season. I know that isn’t very popular because Lent is designed to be a somber time, reflective, preparing our hearts to see Jesus swallow the bitter pill of death… a pill we no longer have to swallow in that same way.

I know many people find this confusing… or just plain Catholic. I wanted to take a moment to share some understandings on the season of Lent and some devotions and resources for the season. I am also very passionate about including our young children (and older children!) in these traditions. Ash Wednesday, the imposition of ashes, and the season of Lent have been profound faith conversation generators for our household. In fact our 6 year old is excited to come to worship tonight. She understands that something special is happening – that something special happened through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Lent may be the season where we most vividly acknowledge that we are changed in Christ. So please don’t leave your young children out! Please allow them to share in the richness that is our faith story! Enjoy these resources below!

 

“Would you please explain the significance of Ash Wednesday? Sometimes I see some people with black ash crosses on their foreheads.” — from an ELCA Facebook follower

On Ash Wednesday, Christians show black crosses on their foreheads as a visible public reminder of our need for repentance and forgiveness. This ancient symbol reminds us of our mortality, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” In receiving words of forgiveness, the cross is also a sign of renewal which empowers us for the Lenten journey.

Ash Wednesday starts the penitential season of Lent. In honesty before God, we acknowledge our need of repentance, of “turning around” those habits, opinions and words that separate us from God and one another. Applied with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” the ashes remind us that our physical existence is ultimately mere carbon, but the life we know in Christ is eternal. Much of what we invest ourselves in is temporary; only our life in Christ ultimately matters.

Placing the ashes on our foreheads in the sign of the cross has two meanings: first, a sign of humility (originally dust on the forehead was an indicator that one had bowed her or his head all the way to the ground in repentance and prayer before God) and second, a reminder that it is in Christ’s cross that we have access to unending life.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season known as Lent, a time for self-examination and repentance. For a very long time, ashes were used as a sign of 1) repentance, that is, admitting your wrongdoing, and 2) grief. For example, see Job 42:6 and Jonah 3:6 among many others.

On Ash Wednesday, Christians around the world publicly enter into a time of repentance. The ashes of Ash Wednesday are a mark of that repentance.

(Thank you to the Florida Bahamas Synod of the ELCA for sharing the response above)

Family Activity

My favorite family activity for little ones is to watch the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. During the Lenten season I highly suggest you invest in a caterpillar or two, or take a trip to a butterfly garden. This visual is a great way to bring home the concept of Christ dead and risen for a child. In Central Florida, our favorite place to take the girls is Lukas Nursery (if you can’t afford Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival!)

Some online devotion resources:

St. Stephen Lutheran Church writes our own devotional for the Lenten Season. You can follow online at www.thespiritporch.blogspot.com. I suggest you subscribe to the RSS feed to get the blogs sent to you automatically. Alos be sure to pick up the family devotion available from the church.

I think this what I am going to do personally: http://margaretfeinberg.com/simple-method-will-revolutionize-way-read-gospels/

A challenge to give up “stuff” for Lent: Fill 40 bags in 40 days

A Simple 40 day Action Guide from House for All Sinners and Saints (ELCA)

An online quick devotional for families

An ELCA Family guide called 40 Days of Wonderings

I LOVE Rachel Held Evans’ questions for Lent and her post for 2015 is fantastic! http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/40-ideas-for-lent-2015

I love the honesty and beauty of Ann Voskamp in her blog A Holy Experience.

I like this sermon by Pastor Eugene Cho on “Giving up Coffee or giving up my life?” If you don’t have 40 minutes to listen, then read the article.

Here is a nice download of a Lenten devotional with easy to read authors such as Max Lucado and Billy Graham (there may be some more stern theology).

A Lenten Devotional from Society of St. Andrew (they provided produce for the produce drop

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2 Responses to “Lent 2015”

  1. Margaret Feinberg (@mafeinberg) February 19, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    Nicole, love your description of Lent and the desire to include our children during the Lenten season. Thank you for including the Gospel reading Lent Challenge in your list of resources.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Being Present: Lenten disciplines | Family and Faith - February 20, 2015

    […] Ash Wednesday I shared with you a compilation of Lenten disciplines. I wanted to give you an update on my personal disciplines so far… I know, we are only on our […]

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