The Church invites us to keep the season of Lent holy “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (Book of Common Prayer p 265). Each week in Lent, you’ll find here suggestions of ways to Fast, Study, Serve, Pray, Repent, and Share.
Many of you will have chosen already to “give something up” or “take something on” for the whole season. Use these in what ever way best fits your life. Some suggestions will overlap with what you already do; others may expand your experience. Some of these suggestions are appropriate to observe for a day or a week, others will take only a few minutes of your time.
Week 6: 3/20 – 3/26
Go meatless for a week, or skip baked goods (bread, cookies, cake). Choose something that’s really an everyday food for you, and give it up this week.
Pray for someone you don’t particularly like - at work or school, in your family, or a public figure.
Pick up trash, return other people’s shopping carts to the corral, and lend a helping hand with keeping the space we share with strangers clean and welcoming.
Read Luke 23:33-56
Choose one of the supporting characters that appear in this part of the story (Simon, women of Jerusalem, neighboring criminals, centurion, women disciples, Joseph of Arimathea). How would you tell this story later if you were that person? What is the most important gift your character gave or received in this story?
“Our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.” Notice which news stories of suffering or injustice leave you indifferent; notice who at work or at school is excluded or laughed at. Ask God to show you how to act to help.
Write a thank you note, by hand, to someone that you have learned from, or to someone who has made the world a better place.
Week 5: 3/13 – 3/19
Choose to drink water when you would normally drink soda, alcohol, or other beverages.
Pray the labyrinth. Walk the labyrinth at Marianjoy in Wheaton, or find a “finger labyrinth” online (visit http://labyrinthsociety.org/ for downloadable finger labyrinths, search for other outdoor labyrinths, or http://www.wikihow.com/Meditate-in-a-Labyrinth for a “how to”)
Donate blood, or make an appointment to do so via the Red Cross or LifeSource.
Read Luke 19:29-40
Jesus’ disciples take a colt that doesn’t belong to them just because, “The Lord needs it.” How has God provided for what you need?
What have you given away because someone needs it at that very moment?
“Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people…and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.”
Do you know who made the appliances, technology, and clothing you’re using today? Do you want anything that you don’t really need? Ask God to help you pay attention to the gifts you receive each day.
Tell someone who is not from Calvary about our Lenten fundraiser. Invite them to donate, or challenge them to choose a cause that matters to them, matching the amount you’ve given to the Magdalene project.
Week 4: 3/6 – 3/12
Choose one meal this week to skip, and use the time you would have spent preparing and eating that meal to do something that connects you with God: prayer, spiritual reading, walking or running, singing or dancing, etc.
Say grace at every meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, even one piece of candy.
Write a card that can be sent to a veteran at Hines Hospital. (Get well, thinking of you, or Happy Easter.) We will collect these at church.
Read John 12:1-8 and Mark 3:1-9
In the world you live in, whose choices about spending puzzle or upset you? (people, organizations, governments?) How would you spend that money if it were yours? Can you imagine Jesus defending their choices?
If you had $35,000 to spend this week only, how would you spend it?
“For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us.”
Whose story do you not know? Who seems to you to be to blame for their own problems? Ask God to open your heart and ears.
What is something that has bugged you in the news this week? (A natural disaster? violence? politics?) Do the research to find an organization that’s acting to help. Share the results of your research with others. Make a donation or volunteer your time.
Week 3: February 28 – March 5
Make a commitment to reduce your use of a natural resource this week. Note how much electricity, gasoline, water, etc. you use on Monday. Work to reduce that by a small amount every day this week. (Other “green Lent’ practices here)
Pray for victims of sex trafficking in our country and around the world. Pray for those who work to stop trafficking, and for those who help rebuild shattered lives.
Sign up for an event that needs volunteers - at school, church, sports (many fundraising races and walks need volunteers) or in your community. The event doesn’t have to be during Lent.
Read Luke 15:11-32
If you were in this story, who would you be? What’s your relationship to your property or possessions?
Who do you turn to when you have come to the end of all your resources – of time, energy, skill, as well as money? What has happened as a result?
How do you respond to others who have burned through their own resources? What has happened as a result?
“We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.”
Who is it hard to love? What is it hard to forgive?
Ask God to show you God’s love for those people, and God’s grace for the hurts that cling to you.
Make a gift for someone who won’t be expecting anything – as simple as a homemade card or meal, as elaborate as a needlework or woodwork project.
Week 2: February 21 – 27
Take a day off from technology - make a phone call or have a face-to-face conversation instead of texting or emailing someone. Take 24 hours off from Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, etc. Skip TV, too.
Pray this week for every candidate in the presidential election. Pay attention to the gifts they have and need from God to be an effective leader. Listen for what makes that person a beloved child of God. Pray for their families.
Shop for treats - spices, dessert, snacks - that you will donate this week to the local food pantry (there will be a bin at church on February 28). Buy the good stuff. Or add up the cost of your own treats and write a check or donate online to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Read Exodus 3:1-15, and 4:1-17
Why do you think Moses objects so much in this story? What do you think of God’s solutions and answers?
What expectations of yourself or of other people make it hard for you to be a hero for God? What do you think God would do to break down those barriers for you?
“Our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us.”
What have you thrown away this week? What do you think the world will be like in 100 years? Ask God to help you see and love the wonders of creation.
Buy coffee for the next person in line, leave an extra tip, or add one of those donation options at the grocery.
Week 1: February 14 – 20
Skip a purchase - put one thing from your grocery cart, shopping bag, or online wish list back on the shelf this week. Donate the money you saved to our Lenten fundraiser.
Download the Daily Office app from Mission St Clare (search St Clare Daily Prayer on the app store to find it, or visit http://www.missionstclare.com/ for the prayer online) and pray Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer daily this week.
Do a chore or errand for a co-worker, friend, or family member.
Read Genesis 15:1-18
What does God promise Abram in this story? How does Abram respond?
What promises has God made to you? What helps you to know that God will keep those promises?
“All our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives…and our dishonesty in daily life and work.”
What makes you impatient? Where do you fail to practice what you preach? Where is it easy to let things slide? Ask God to help you see the impact of your words and actions on others.
Tell someone what you love best about them. Be specific.
Getting Started: Week of Ash Wednesday
Skip snacks, and don't eat on the run. This may be a sacrifice of time instead of food!
Read Luke 4:1-13
What truths or trust do you think Jesus turns to to decline these temptations? More than quoting scripture?
What would the devil offer you to tempt you?
What truths or trust do you lean on to decline temptation?
Choose a short prayer or Bible verse. Repeat it to yourself every 30 minutes throughout the day. (If you're a smartphone user, set it up with a timer or a reminder in your phone!)
Share something about your faith on Facebook or other social media. Post gratitudes, prayers, a Bible verse that’s important to you, a picture that expresses your faith, or share a truth you believe in.