Traditionally in the week or so before Lent actually begins Christians confessed their sins and discerned with their confessors what would be fruitful Lenten penances. We may not want to talk about penance these days; Lenten discipline or Lenten practice might be better phrases. But whatever we call it, the point of said penance or discipline or practice is not that it makes us more worthy of God’s attention or love but that it makes us more receptive to the Spirit of God, more open to glimpses of God’s glory. It moves us from being the subject of our own lives, to active receptivity of and mutuality with the light and glory and love of God. So we do not seek a glory that comes from our own achievements or exertions. The glory and splendour bestowed on us are wholly gift, the initiative of God. God is the true subject here.
So, choose your Lenten practice carefully. Whether to rediscover the rhythms that are integral to a spiritually attuned life, or to break the destructive habits that prevent you receiving the gifts of God, or to make you fitter to play your part as an every day Christian, in a world that is crying out for the glory of the new life of Easter.
Have you decided what your Lent focus will be this year? Here are some ideas.
#LentPilgrim: 40 days of reflections on the Beatitudes Christian disciples are strongly encouraged to commit to reading the Bible and praying daily. Millions, over the ages to the present day, have found this a valuable way to pattern their lives and grow in confidence spiritually. A number of us will be using the #LentPilgrim booklets or the app during Lent. Each day provides a short reflection on a Bible reading, an invitation to pray and a suggestions of how we might respond. Printed booklet, £3, available in church. Also available daily via an app; or sign up for daily emails at http://www.churchofengland.org/lent.
Lent books. Some people like to have their faith stretched by reading a book during Lent. The Church Times has reviews of a selection of Lent books in this article. Buy and read one that interests you.
Lent group. Some people find it helpful to meet with friends (or soon to be friends) to learn and support each other. Look out for local Lent groups near you. (St Mary’s Hardwick has a group following the Diocesan Lent course which offers a second chance to look at the Sunday readings and explore them a bit more – with a view to taking something practice into the rest of the week. More details in church or from the weekly email.)
40 activities for families explore together during Lent. If you have young children or grandchildren with you at home and want to introduce them to some of the themes of Lent, then this free eBook of simple makes and activities from the fabulous website www.sunhatsandwellieboots.com is highly recommended. It has been updated for 2019. Creative Activities for Families this Lent.
Lent Family Creative Journal. For older children and adults exploring faith at home together this journal of 24 full-colour A4 pages of creative ideas to explore the themes of Lent and Easter is worth looking at. Available to buy for £5 from www.engageworship.org