By Kris Judd, Staff Pastor; Janné Grover, Disciple Formation Ministries; and Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries
Re-posted from: Community of Christ website
Photo by: Adam Wade
A rich blessing of a Lenten journey is using ancient practices to guide us into what is new. Though the path ahead is not easy or certain, an accumulation of wisdom from generations past can help us live even deeper into the meaning of resurrection in each new time. In the spirit of the ancient and the new, we invite you to join us daily on this Lenten journey! We live once again through the stories of Christ—leading us to the cross and the anticipation of new life.
As a community all are invited to focus on a specific practice each week to help simplify our lives, focus on what matters most, and prepare for the wonder and transformation resurrection brings! These practices have been used throughout our broader Christian heritage to seek guidance, dwell in God’s presence, and open us even more to the new thing God is doing within each of us. Beginning with fasting as the foundational Lenten practice, each practice guides us ever deeper inward and ultimately outward. With each practice there is a recommended Lenten reflection hymn from Community of Christ Sings (CCS).
Blessings on our Lenten journey! May we travel with the knowledge that our community goes with us. We journey together seeking deeper connection, releasing what holds us back so we might really live.
View the Introduction to Lenten Practices video and watch this blog for weekly community spiritual practices for Lent.
Recommended Uses for Lenten Journey Practices
There are many ways the [upcoming] practices can be used. They are introduced as personal spiritual practices, but they can also be used in worship settings, small groups, classes, or family devotions. It is important to keep in mind there is no right practice, method, or result. Everyone’s journey will be different. The journey is not about the practices themselves, but how they lead us inward to a deeper awareness and connection to God, and how that finds outward expression in our lives as disciples. The importance of the journey is joining as community in these shared practices, engaging in conversations along the way, and being aware of how we are shaped and formed over time as individuals and as community.
- Designate a portion of worship each Sunday during Lent to introduce the practice for the upcoming week.
- Invite different people each week to introduce the practices. Involve people of all ages.
- Incorporate the recommended hymn as part of the introduction to the practice.
- To introduce the practices, you may choose to lead the congregation in the practice (if time and circumstances permit) or read the introduction to each practice.
- You may choose to incorporate the introduction to the practice with the Prayer for Peace, emphasizing the importance of social justice as part of Lent.
- Include a pastoral prayer for the congregation each week holding up the importance of the Lenten journey leading to the cross and the anticipation of new life.
Small Groups or Class Settings
- Small group meetings during Lent can be focused on the meaning of Lent and the use of intentional practices for spiritual formation.
- You may choose to lead the group in the recommended practices each week, or the time may be spent reflecting on individual experiences with the practices.
- Affirm the uniqueness of each one’s journey. Some may struggle with the discipline of the practices; others may find different ways of experiencing the Lenten journey.
- Engage in conversations about how the practices connect participants to the rich Christian tradition, how they are being led inward to a deeper awareness and connection to God, and how that finds outward expression in discipleship.
- Be present with and supportive of one another. It may be helpful to form partnerships within a larger group to intentionally support another as you journey together.
- Pay careful attention to the ways you are being drawn to issues of social justice. Discuss these as a group and find avenues for learning about and addressing such issues. Reflect on ways the group or congregation is being challenged to invest in relationships which promote mutuality and wholeness.
- Designate a time each day as a family to focus on the journey of Lent and its meaning.
- You may choose to engage in the practices as a family, or allow each family member to engage in the practices in their own way.
- Ask questions and learn from one another. Pay close attention to what children notice and the questions they ask.
- Young children learn through their feelings. Focus on feelings of love, kindness, and sharing, and take special care to avoid feelings of guilt. Older children will relate to making responsible choices, being good friends, and taking care of the world. Youth are learning what it means to be a member of a global community. They will relate to issues of social justice and how they can make a difference in the world.
- Everyone’s journey is unique, and everyone will respond to the practices in different ways. The following suggestions may be helpful with children and youth.
- Fasting—focus on Responsible Choices and making time and space for God.
- Prayer of Examen—review each day. When did you receive love? When did you share love?
- Holy Attention—encourage family members to focus on a friend in need or the country represented in the Daily Prayer for Peace (http://www.CofChrist.org/prayerpeace/2014_Country.asp).
- Centering Prayer—try simple breath prayers that help children focus on God and others. Encourage a different family member each day to come up with prayer words to use as the family does a breath prayer together.
- Lectio Divina—use different versions of the Isaiah 58:6–9 text to read each day. What do you learn from hearing this scripture passage repeated? What questions do you have about the scripture passage? What ideas do you have about being peacemakers?
- Silence—designate family time each day to “unplug” and be together in silence. Do not worry about long periods of silence together. Start with just a few minutes and talk about what is comfortable or not comfortable about being in silence. As you are able to increase the time, listen to how each member of the family responds to this time designated to just being silent with God.