Lent + Easter with Sacred Ordinary Days

LENT

40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays // February 17–April 3, 2021

In the season of Lent, we enter into the forty-day fast that Jesus undertook in the wilderness. Through this dedicated period of self-examination, we allow God to further shape us into the image of Jesus. We also align our hearts with the suffering of Jesus as we move ever closer toward Holy Week and the event of the crucifixion.

The season begins with Ash Wednesday, in which we receive the imposition of ashes and are reminded we are but dust and to dust we shall return. During this season, we observe chosen forms of fasting, prayer, and service or charity for forty days but break the fast on Sundays, which are considered feast days of celebration throughout the church year.

INVOCATION

O Lord our God, May we return to you with all our hearts. We rend our hearts and not our garments. May we return to you. For you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. We repent of evil. Amen.
(based on Joel 2:12-13)

THE SEASON IN SCRIPTURE

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

    • What role has self-examination played in my spiritual life?
    • How open am I to this season of penitence, fasting, and prayer?
    • How might I serve others through this time of sacrifice?

PRACTICES TO CONSIDER 

    • Observe a Lenten fast for forty days, sacrificially abstaining from a habit or usual food or activity
    • Commit to a particular prayer practice for forty days, deepening your connection to God
    • Find an avenue for almsgiving and charity, serving your fellow neighbor in love
    • Celebrate the Sunday feast days during Lent, setting aside your fast to embrace the right-now reality of the resurrection

VISIO DIVINA

The practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are considered the three pillars of Lent. They are represented here by a fish for fasting, a money bag for almsgiving, and a pair of hands clasped in prayer. Tradition tells us that prayer is for the good of our souls, fasting for the good of our bodies, and almsgiving for the good of our neighbor. The triadic nature of the three pillars echoes the triune nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three pillars are encircled first by a braided border which calls to mind the pretzel, a simple bread made without fat, eggs, sugar, or milk, which was originally created to be eaten during Lent and whose shape is reminiscent of arms crossed in prayer. Forty barren stones form the outer border and represent the forty days Jesus spent in the desert and the forty days of the Lenten season. Allow these symbols to urge and inspire you as you adopt and engage with your own Lenten practices.

BENEDICTION

Take up your cross, lose yourself. 
Take up your cross, find yourself. 

Take up your cross, lose your life. 
Take up your cross, find your life. 

Take up your cross, follow me.

—Burt Burleson, set to music by Kurt Kaiser