By Deanna Outsen, Council President
WHAT IS LENT:
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or volunteering and giving of themselves for others. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.
WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY:
The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. Now, the ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many people that receive them will leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.
Growing up in Utah it was rare to see someone with ashes on their foreheads, however, anytime I did see someone with the shadowy cross on their foreheads, I felt connected to them. I looked forward to the time that I could tell who may be in that secret group - family. Since that time, Lent has meant different things for me personally, and although I still take a personal joy in seeing the shadowy crosses, I also appreciate a more personal side to Lent. Every year I begin my Lenten journey wanting to better myself, my spirit and my heart, always giving something up and always adding something new that will benefit others. I have found some fun ideas so I thought I would share a few for Lent:
Donate 40 things for 40 days – The idea is to walk around your home, perhaps even daily, and donate items you don’t need- declutter your home, declutter you life. You may donate forty individual items, or forty bags of items, one for each day of Lent.
Don’t Complain – Sometimes, without realizing, you find that one complains and whines about things. Lent is a time to change that by having a more positive outlook on things. This may sound easier than you think, you don’t realize how much one complains until you give it up… “Do all things without murmuring and arguing…” Philippians 2:14 NRSV
Replace 30 minutes of TV with 30 minutes of prayer or devotion time - Read a devotional or bible story with your family and have a discussion about it. Even young kids can get involved in this.
Say 3 nice things to your family members - You may think this is easy, but try to say things that aren’t the standard “Thanks” or “You look nice” or “Good job.” With your husband or wife, you may try: “I love how you always help the kids.” With your kids, you may try: “I love how you work hard on your homework, even when it is tough. You are a hard worker.” Remember your words become their inner voice. Remember- three things to each, every day!
Provide an Act of Random Kindness daily – This one is always my favorite. It can be a kindness that is simple such as letting someone step in front of you at the checkout line at the grocery store, paying for the person’s food or beverage behind in you in the drive through, or leaving positive post it notes in restrooms or the changing room at the gym. You also can take a bit of time for perhaps a more meaningful kindness: write a hand-written thank you note, bake someone a cake and take it to them, or take a friend out to dinner.
Spend more one-on-one time with those who matter to you – This one may take some planning, but can be spontaneous too. For your young children try painting each other toenails (moms and dads can both do this!), read a book together, play the 20 questions game. For older children take them out to Chugz for a cookie and a soda pop (unless you’ve given up cookies and soda pop), play a video game together, go to a movie together – take the time to talk while you drive! Reach out to others via phone, skype or face time, plan a sit-down meal, or take them out to dessert,
So how will Lent be different for you this year? Lent is a great time to try to do something to better yourself, your spirit & your heart for 40 days. Try it!!!
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.