By Rev. Michelle Foster
Lint is the leftover particles of paper, dust, and material scraps left in your pockets after they are removed from the dryer. Lent is a season of the church year that precedes Easter and follows the season of epiphany.
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, and concludes at sundown on the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday. This season is 40 days long, not including Sundays, and is most often symbolized with the color purple. Symbols of this season include (among others) the cross, crown of thorns, a rooster, chalice or communion cup and paten or communion plate, palm leaves, ashes, money bag and pelican.
This season is often associated with self-reflection, repentance, prayer, fasting and self-denial. It is also the time when we begin to hear the question asked, “So, what did you give up for Lent?” When we willingly choose to give up something, whether that is a habit, an indulgence or a particular behavior, we do so in an intentional effort to avail ourselves in a new way to God’s grace and the mystery of Advent, God-with-us. This self-denial leads to a dying of self with an anticipation and expectation that we will experience, through our Easter faith, a rising with Christ and a re-birth of life.
When we take the time to understand and experience all that the season of Lent offers to us, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with the resurrection joy of Easter. Consider some of these ideas to engage your congregation in the season of Lent.
• Host a “Jeopardy” game night with all the questions relating to Lent
• Focus each Sunday in Lent on one particular event in the last week of Jesus’ ministry
• Encourage people to focus on what they are going to take on in order to strengthen their walk with Christ to the cross. This may mean that they have to give up something in order to add something more meaningful.
• Using the workshop rotation model of Sunday school with children, establish a different room for the various events of Jesus’ last week. These may include the Upper Room, Golgotha, the road into Jerusalem, Pilate’s court. Within each room the children would look in-depth at the characters, emotions, and decisions that were faced. Conversations could also center on the decisions that we have to make everyday.
• Focus your children’s sermons on a different symbol of the season. These symbols could then be added to a barren tree to establish a Lenten tree.
• Consider purchasing a butterfly kit. Buy it now. Send off for the live caterpillar larvae and watch caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies. Release the butterflies on Easter morning.
• Do a reverse Advent wreath. In Advent the light grows stronger each week. In Lent the light grows darker each week as we anticipate the death of Jesus Christ. Begin Lent with six (if no Good Friday service) or seven (if you are having a Good Friday service) fully lit candles. Each week as the scriptures are read, extinguish a candle. The last candle would be extinguished on Palm-Passion Sunday or your Good Friday service.
• Invite dramatists to portray Judas, Pilate, Simon Peter, Simon of Cyrene and others who engaged Jesus in a meaningful way as he journeyed to the cross.
• Invite children and youth to re-write the scripture lessons for the day in their own words and include this paraphrase as a part of worship each week. This may be a great sermon starter for the preachers.
Lent is a season of preparation and anticipation. Let us prepare and anticipate the sadness and grief that was first felt when Christ was laid in the tomb. Let us, then, look with new eyes toward Easter, the season in which we celebrate and give thanks that we are a resurrection people.
For more ideas and worship materials, visit www.gbod.org/worship.
Foster serves on the conference staff in the areas of children’s ministry and family ministries.