Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, right in the middle of the work week. This is because Lent is about you and me and our personal lives, our spiritual lives, our faith lives. I believe firmly that if Christian teachings, rituals and practices do not make a difference in our everyday lives, do not make us better people–more secure, joyful, tolerant, hopeful–then we should give up Christian teachings. We should close up the church buildings and study what Christianity used to mean, or means to others, if we’re interested in that. I, for one, would not be interested.Lent is the spring-time of the church year. It is the time for each of us to dig just a little deeper into what ever our faith means to us. We are all gifted in different ways. We are all oriented to a slightly different corner of Christian experience.

Think of the attention you pay to your heart of faith (which is the heart of your self, the part that belongs to God) as an offering. An offering of thanksgiving.

Here are just a few thoughts, some of you have already told me what you are going to do for Lent. If others of you would like to tell me, I would like to hear, so that I can support you and pray for you in your personal Lenten disciplines. Traditional Lutherans or other Christians might think that a few of these suggestions are odd. I stand by all of them.  The important thing is that you claim your faith. Claim Christ quietly and with conviction and see where our ever-surprising Lord leads you.

If you feel called to pray, do that. Carol Green convenes a prayer group on Sunday mornings. Or just pray on your own. Use one of the daily devotionals as a way into prayer. Even in private devotion we need trusted partners. The devotionals are just the right thing.

Set aside time to be quiet. One Peace family will keep a few minutes of silence together during the day, with television and phones and video games off.

Practice a formal kind of meditation. Maybe a group would like to meet at church for this.

Read Luther’s Small Catechism, which is simple instruction in the Christian faith, written in the 16th century for all time to come. There are copies of the catechism on the table in the narthex. Classic training in the Christian faith.

Combine meditation with reading in the catechism or from the daily lectionary.

Read the daily Bible printed on the back of the Celebrate insert, leading up to our Sunday morning reunions around the word and sacraments . Pick up one of the devotionals from the narthex, do the Bible reading and read the reflection each day.  Subscribe to the daily devotional from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Several Peace members do this. Here’s the link. http://www.luthersem.edu/lent/default.aspx?m=6353

Give up something that you know is not good for you. Cut back on beer, chocolate or Doritos.

Add something: exercise, walk, skype with family members, write letters, take time to read a good book, visit an art museum or attend a concert or a play. These are good things and all of them are a little bit counter-cultural.

Stay away from the mall, turn off the television, limit the time you spend on Facebook.

Rededicate yourself to stewardship, whatever that means to you. In the broadest sense, stewardship means caring for valuable places and enterprises and supporting them with your money. If your main way into the Christian faith is through the giving of your money to the church, give a little more. The church would not exist today and it would not have existed in any moment of time without generous stewards and patrons. Giving money thankfully is a powerful and unambiguous Christian testimony.

Care for the property you own. Help care for the church’s property. Last week Ron and Warren worked on the church building. In Lent you might find a project around the church and spend a few hours working on it. You are supporting our Christian ministry when you volunteer to maintain and repair the church building.

Ash Wednesday services at Peace are 9:30 am and 7:30 pm. The basic structure of the service is a comprehensive confession of our weakness and frailties and worse; the ashes help us feel our mortality. Following the confession is an invitation to let our human lives, that are so often out of tune, become tuned to God’s love.

About Peace Lutheran Church Wayland Massachusetts

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