“As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent - self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love - strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Invitation to Lent)
In one week from Wednesday, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday and enter into the season of Lent. In worship, you will hear this invitation to the discipline of Lent and this is the time to consider your own discipline for the season.
As Lutherans, one of our favorite verses to point to is Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For some, a Lenten discipline becomes confused with works, but it is important to remember that, while we do not assume a discipline in order to earn God’s grace, it can be a way of focusing on and deepening our faith.
This is also the time the year that many people are ready to admit defeat on New Year’s Resolutions. While this can be a great time to start over or recommit to our goals for the year, choosing a Lenten discipline is not a way to get a “do-over” for a failed resolution. (Though every day can be a new start, that is not the point of Lent.)
So, if you want to assume a discipline for the season, what do you choose?
Here are some ideas to get you started, but, as you choose, it is important to find a discipline to help you grow in faith, which may not look the same as someone else.
Self-examination: Commit to ending each day by practicing the Daily Examen that Ignatius’ practiced :
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
Repentance: What is one area in life where God is calling to you to turn around or to rethink your actions? Commit to small steps toward that change throughout this season.
Prayer: Set aside time daily for prayer. Not sure where to start? Consider the Common Prayer app for Android or Apple .
Fasting: What is your main distraction from spending time with God or has become a driving force in your life? Consider fasting from social media or television or coffee or whatever has a pull on your life and focus.
Sacrificial giving: We usually consider what we can give out of what is left after caring for our needs and wants, without changing how we live. Are you being called to change how you live for a time so that you can give sacrificially of your time or money?
Works of love: Is there a way you are being called to serve others? Consider volunteering regularly as a work of love during Lent or committing to care for those around you in a specific way.
Another discipline to consider is joining a Journey group during Lent. This is a way to engage with a small group and study together for five weeks. Groups meet at different days and times through the week - check the sign up lists in the gathering space for one that works for you. If there isn’t one that works, talk to Pastor Lecia about hosting a group.
How is God inviting you to grow this Lent? We answer that invitation, knowing that it isn’t about pleasing God but about growing deeper in our faith and being formed as disciples of Christ.
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,