Well, it is Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season has officially begun. AND once again, I feel like I just need one more week before I’ll be ready. Not sure what is wrong with me this year…I have lots of good ideas to write about but my times on the computer often get interrupted (like right now the phone is ringing!) and then I lose my concentration. However, since I didn’t pick up the ringing phone, I have a few moments of quiet and just thought I’d share a few things we are going to do as a family to observe this Lenten season together:
During a conversation around our breakfast table, we discussed Lent and the stories or images that are often associated with it. From these stories we decided to form some activities that our family will engage in during the next 40 days.
1. Prayer – this is a no brainer, but prayer is at the very heart of Lent. We ask God to “create in us a clean heart”, to help us see ourselves and Him ever more clearly, and to deepen our union with Him. Because of this, we are going to set up a little prayer space in our house. It will be a corner with a little table, a candle, a prayer book, a bible and whatever else our kids decide to add to it. Both of them struggle with prayer (they think it is boring!) so there may be some unconventional items in our prayer space. However, the point is to create a space that reminds us to pray and helps take us further into our prayer practice.
2. Tie-Dye – As we talked about the imagery of Lent being the dying to self and Easter being the risen to new life, baptism naturally came up. In the process of the conversation, my husband shared with us that “baptism” was the word they used when they dyed fabric. What went in one color took on a new color after being dipped in the dye. I thought that was a beautiful picture of us sharing in the life of Christ – of being baptized into Him – and coming out colored by His life, death and resurrection. So….we are going to do a couple types of dyeing experiments. The first will be taking black shirts and using bleach on them (the idea being that He has washed us whiter than snow). The second will be taking white shirts and tie dyeing them to give us a physical picture of our lives taking on the colors of Jesus.
3. $2 a Day Challenge – we have decided as a family to attempt to live on $2/day per person 2 days a week during the Lenten season. Now this may not seem like much to you if you’ve done something like this before, but we have two growing children and this challenge is frightening the heck out of our 10 year old. He is an active boy who needs lots of snacks during the day and so this is going to be his greatest act of faith. We read the story of how Daniel and friends were sustained by only vegetables and water rather than the choicest foods from the kings table, and made sure he knew that the God of Daniel is still GOD!! We’ll see how it goes…But at the end of Lent we’d love to take what we have saved over those handful of days and donate it to some organization doing Kingdom work. (Got the $2/day challenge from Mustard Seed Associates).
4. Planting in the Darkness - often times Lent can seem lonely, and dark; we are asked to do the hard work of digging in the dirt of our hearts, identifying the weeds and trusting that God is planting seeds of transformation in us even when we don’t see it. So we are going to plant seeds in the dirt as a way to say that we will trust God’s process of growing us even in the darkness. We are going to plant ours inside (after all the Pacific Northwest is not that warm yet), they will grace our vegetable garden in the spring and even become the food we harvest and eat in the summer. (Is there any better picture of the slow, steady growth of God’s Spirit in our hearts and lives?)
I end with shoes. It is the picture I have as I am invited by Jesus to walk into Lent with Him. It is the picture I get as I think about our kids being formed by the Story of Lent and being able to walk through it together. And as I feel ill prepared, a little too busy, not godly enough, and a little discombobulated…shoes are a comforting picture. They remind me that in Lent, the important thing is not how we come, but how we leave the journey that matters.