Lenten Spiritual Practices and Resource Recommendations
Wednesday starts the beginning of Lent, a season of introspection and self-reflection. If you are new to church or grew up in a church that did not follow the liturgical calendar, this season might sound unfamiliar. Lent is a time of preparation and is intended to help us prepare our hearts for Easter. As a way of preparing, people tend to adopt a spiritual practice for the 40 days of Lent, which excludes Sundays due to the practice of celebration on these “mini-Easters.” Spiritual practices, such as Scripture reading, prayer, service, or journaling are common disciplines practiced during this time. Other people might decide to give up something for Lent, like not drinking coffee or eating sweet treats, and instead donating the money they would have spent on treats to a local charity.
The idea of Lent is to prepare for Easter by making space in our lives. Often our schedules are busy, and we rush from event to event. When this happens, we can find ourselves going through the motions of church life and not engaging with Christ and the World through shared community. Easter is important! Therefore, we do not want to rush into that day without taking time to prepare. We need time to slow down, make space in our lives and spirit, and prepare to celebrate Jesus’s victory over sin and death.
Some members of our team at the Center for Congregational Excellence have put together our favorite resources and best practices to share with you, in hopes that you will journey with us this Lent towards the empty tomb with open hearts, minds, and readiness to be in beloved community with our churches, neighbors, and world.
Juan Quintanilla, Consultant for Hispanic Ministry
“I am planning to give up 40 things in good condition, one each day that I have at home. I will give them away at the end of Lent to a nonprofit organization, such as the Salvation Army or church yard sale. It could be a short-sleeve shirt one day, a cup, an extra Bible, a book, pants, a candle, a tie, a sweater, new toothpaste, a watch, etc… I have a lot of stuff at home that someone can use. The Bible says that it is better to give than to receive. John the Baptist said, 'if you have two pieces of clothes give one.' So, I will be collecting each of the 40 days and give at the end.“
Dede Reilly, Children’s Ministry Specialist
“The first Sunday of Lent will be a family teaching worship service about Holy Communion and the sacred space of a table. Come to the table. Tables at church, tables at home, tables set for our family and friends in Jesus' name. The children will be primary participants to set the table and lead in worship that day as we 'teach' as if everyone was a child about Holy Communion in the community.”
Blair Boyd Zant, Director of the Center For Congregational Excellence
"The beautiful 'Farm to Communion Table' Lenten worship guide A Time to Grow: Lenten Lessons from the Garden by Rev. Kara Eidson is feeding my soul.
Rev. Eidson digs deep as pastor and gardener to walk us from The Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane She plays with imagery of soil, water, light, time, fasting and feasting to help readers explore Christian faith practices to ready us for Resurrection. It’s perfect for personal devotion, or as a small group study. Pastors and worship leaders: check out the back section for entire worship guides including scriptures, sermon starters, altar arts, children’s messages, communal liturgist and prayers. Y’all. Rev. Eidson has served up a feast. Enjoy!”
Scott Parrish, Missions Specialist
“In my mind, today Jesus would wear a sneaker - comfortable & geared to action - & that sort of symbol would match this Lenten practice well.
I orient this toward capitalizing on the movement from winter to spring, from isolation to a family or pod group to getting out into the community, & to using the movement time as a way of prayer that becomes more aware of nature, of neighbor, of getting away from the screen & catching our breath & balance in life & faith.
Week by week we might intentionally:
- be walking
- into creation care, e.g. gardening, flower beds, or similar
- if we don't have a personal garden maybe we are working in public community space or community garden
- and acts of service such as serving in local mission, e.g. food pantry, vaccination clinic, tutoring, car ministry, disaster response, long term recovery in Newnan, etc
This type of active practice of Lent in the community is within reach of everyone!”
Jessica Blackwood, Digital Ministry Specialist
“I enjoy the practice of journaling. During Lent, I will be taking time to center myself through writing about life, faith, my emotional health, and the nature of God. Writing helps give order to my thoughts and process what I am feeling and thinking without judgment or shame. This balance of emotional release and structure gives me a place to land all of my thoughts and then provides an opportunity for me to reflect on the state of my heart and mind. I like that I can return to my journals during times of struggle or celebration, and remember where I have seen God work before. I invite you to find a writing pad, your favorite writing tool, and join me!!”
What spiritual practices and resources do you find helpful? Let us know so that we can share best practices with others!