Lenten Journey: New Life on an Ancient Path

Ansan Mountain & Children's Day 167By 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.

Worship

  • 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.

Family Devotions

  • 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.

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