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How to Celebrate Lent with Your Family

Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. As a child, I remember the solemn mass of Ash Wednesday and being anointed with ashes in the sign of the cross on my forehead. As an adult, I attend a Protestant church, but I’ve always loved the traditional church calendar recognized by the Catholic Church. There is something special about marking the start of church seasons, don’t you think? 



What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is called Ash Wednesday because of the practice of putting ashes on worshipers foreheads as a sign of humility before God and as a sign of mourning for the death and destruction that sin brings into the world.

What Is the Purpose of Lent?

The season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Week: Holy Thursday, (Maundy Thursday),  Good Friday, and concluding the Saturday before Easter. Today, Lent is used as a time of prayer and preparation for Easter. We can look inward to see what needs to be confessed and changed in our lives. Some Christians fast and/or give up something for Lent as a sacrificial offering, while others focus on doing good deeds to help others. 

I love author Ruth Haley Barton’s take on Lent. She makes us think deeply by recommending we all ask ourselves this question, “Where in my life have I gotten away from God, and what are the disciplines that will enable me to find my way back?”

Ideas to Make Lent Special

As Ruth’s question suggests, marking the time of Lent in a thoughtful way will help you to prepare your heart for Easter. Perhaps you could even invite a family member or friend to join you in this journey. If you have young children, they may enjoy starting their own mini-ministry (see the last bullet point) or reading short prayers or scriptures with you. Here’s a list of suggestions, or feel free to try one of your own.

  • Give up a favorite food as a sacrifice to God.
  • Work on breaking a bad habit you have.
  • Add a new beneficial habit that you’ve been meaning to start that will improve either your body, soul, or spirit.
  • Practice Lectio Divina, also called sacred reading.
  • Practice a spiritual discipline that sounds interesting: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, self-denial, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, or celebration.
  • Read Lent selections from the Book of Common Prayer or other prayer books.
  • Start a mini ministry of encouragement. Each day find some way to encourage others: a quick note, a piece of candy, a hug, and so on. (More on mini ministries coming soon).

Let’s all take some time to settle in with God during the season of Lent. We’d love to hear your ideas on making this a sacred season. Please share below in the comments.

Blessings,

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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent on the Christian calendar. Lent is the time when believers prepare our hearts for the coming of Easter; it’s the time for reflecting on the sacrifice that Jesus made for each one of us when He went to the cross. We can do this in several ways:



  • Prayer
  • Repentance
  • Practice of spiritual disciplines
  • Attending services
  • Denying ourselves something (such as giving up a favorite food)

Let’s Humble Ourselves

On this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, we humble ourselves before God. Some faiths remind us of this by placing ashes on their congregants’ foreheads with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In that spirit, we’d like to revisit a post we wrote previously to help you start Lent in a humble, reflective manner. Here is the link to the Ash Wednesday pdf:

Ash Wednesday

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and we pray you and your loved ones have a blessed start to this season of Lent!




Lent: empty to full, service

IMG_2368Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. Luke 12:35-36

Welcome to the final week of our Lent: empty to full study. We are so thankful for each one who has made this journey with us. For our final week, we will be looking at service.

Service can be a spur-of-the-moment Spirit-led prompting to help someone, or it can be a longer commitment that you make, perhaps as a volunteer.

Your season of life will influence your acts of service. Parents with small children often find most of their time is spent serving their families. As your children grow, your schedule may allow for more time for you to serve others outside of your home as well.

The most important way to determine where God wants you serving in this season of life is to of course pray about it. Seek His plans and be alert to opportunities He brings your way. Enjoy this week’s Sway and be sure to let us know some of the different ways you have served others in your life!

 

Have a blessed Easter!

Jane Vanosdol and Mary Kane

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Study, Lent: empty to full

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16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16-17

I love studying and learning.

I could be a professional student. My heart beats a little faster when I hear terms such as Rhodes Scholar, Oxford, Cambridge, Colson Fellows Program … the stuff dreams are made of. God is all about studying and learning. He required the Kings of Israel to write a copy of His word and keep it with them and study it every day of their life. What’s good for the Kings of Israel is good for us.

Studying is a discipline and requires determination and perseverance, but the pay-outs are huge. Wisdom, knowledge, blessings, being smarter than our enemies are just a few of the benefits of studying God’s holy word. In this digital age we have instant access to the word of God — it’s only a click away.

Make some extra time this week and get your study on, you will be blessed! To get you started, please dig in to the Sway below.

Don’t forget to leave a comment in the Comment Section about what you have learned!




Lent: empty to full, fasting

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Fasting is temporarily abstaining from food (electronic media, television, etc.) for a period of time with the purpose of focusing on prayer and spiritual guidance.

Welcome to week 4 of our Lent guide! After spending last week studying prayer, this week’s topic of fasting is a natural follow-up.

As we persevere through the discomfort of fasting, we often experience a time of laser focus and closeness with God that is at a deeper level than what we usually attain. It is interesting how a physical discipline such as fasting complements our spiritual development. But God has created us in a way that our bodies, souls, and spirits are intricately connected. Disciplining our bodies by way of fasting often brings about spiritual breakthroughs as we cooperate with God in our goal for the fast.

New to Fasting?

If you’ve never tried fasting before, please don’t be intimidated. A fast does not have to be weeks long to be beneficial. In fact, if you are new, start slow. Try fasting for one meal. You’ll find several suggestions in the Sway that should help you choose a method to practice during the upcoming week.

Please scroll through the Sway and explore the different resources we have for you this week.

Share your insights, questions, and prayer requests on our Lent Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

Have a blessed week!

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Lent: empty to full, prayer

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At its simplest, prayer is communicating with God.

Prayer is the language of our hopes, dreams, and ambitions. The Bible teaches that we should pray without ceasing, in good times and bad, when we are tempted, and when we are under attack. While God can do whatever He wants without the help of man, in His wisdom He has decreed that some things will not be accomplished apart from the prayers of man.

The effective fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much!

We all know we should pray. We all know prayer is important … so why don’t we? Why do we struggle so with prayer instead of in prayer? Because prayer is hard work. Prayer is where our battles are won or lost. Some parts of the Christian life are enjoyable: praise and worship, fellowship, hospitality. Prayer is literally going to war with the enemy. No one likes to go to war. It’s hard. It’s bloody. It’s critical. It’s necessary. It’s our privilege and the payouts are huge.

Our nation is at stake. Our families are at stake. Our children are at stake. Suit up and get your armor on and drop to your knees because the battle must be won.

Please scroll through the Sway below to access the many embedded prayer resources. Remember to leave a comment below and on our Facebook page.

Have a blessed Lent.

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