Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The facts about Lent

In preparation for a class with the middles schoolers, I wanted to get all of the facts on Lent so we could talk about them in class that coming Sunday.  In doing so, I found that even as a lifelong Episcopalian, there were still some things I could learn about the facts on Lent.  I thought some of you might appreciate checking out the list of Lenten facts as well.  I hope you hare having a growth-filled and loving season of Lent. 

What is Lent?
·        It begins the day after Ash Wednesday and ends the day before Easter.  Palm Sunday happens during Lent and a week before Easter.
·        It is not mentioned in the bible
·        It started as a time to call in new followers to the early church and they were then baptized on Easter.
·        Then when church became more established with lots of followers, lent became a time for members to focus on becoming better followers.
·        Lent is built around the 40 days and 40 nights of Jesus being tempted in the desert with no food or water.
·        During Lent, the church is decorated in purple to prepare for the coming of Jesus as the King.  Purple is considered a royal color.
·        The goal of Lent is to deepen our commitment to a way of life that is rooted in our Baptism, to grow in our relationship with God, and to experience/share God’s love more deeply.
·        Ways we can do this during lent are:   pilgrimages, fasting, giving up the extras, living more simply, seeing ourselves not as the center of everything but as one part of the larger whole in God’s creation, becoming a more loving person, spend more time praying/talking with God, reading spiritual books, reconciling with someone with whom we are in a conflict, performing acts of kindness, turning away from actions and words that are not of God (of love), acknowledging things we have done wrong (sins) and committing to not do them again, taking time for self-discovery

If you are interested in going deeper into exploring Lent, here are some additional websites with a variety of perspectives which you can explore.  I found many of them quite interesting!  Jump on the blog and let us know if you find anything out there that is of particular interest to you!  I'll look forward to learning from what you are able to find.
• Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Lent site.
CRI Institute's Lent seasonal page (Protestant) by Dennis Bratcher.
Ken Collins' Lent pages.
• the intergenerational Generations in Faith Together (GIFT), from Faith Inkubators, which can be started in a Lent seasonal form.
Kir-Shalom's huge Lent/Easter site (in two parts, because there's so much to visit...).
• Annette LaPlaca's Christian Parenting article on ways for parents to share this season as a family with their children.
• A search for Lent-related Blogs. (For some, a blog acts as a sounding-board on creating a different edge to Lenten practices. Others do a Lent blog-journal, a natural blend of blog and devotional journal. These will develop as the Lent season leads on, so check in at least once a week.)
• an Orthodox Lenten Triodion. (They call the season "the Great Lent", the season of the bright sadness.)
• Roman Catholic Lent (Quadragesima) information on American Catholic, and the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent. These reflect a more-or-less standard Catholic view of Lent.
Andrew Santella on Protestants doing Lent.
• Orthodox theological writer Alexander Schmemann on the Great Lent, posted by Seth Earl.'s Lent / Easter Resources. Especially helpful for worship services.
• Lenten reflections from St. Elizabeth Church in Melville NY.
The Work of the People, Travis Reed's visual Lent liturgies, taking it beyond just the ear.

Christine D'Amico, Associate for Children, Youth & Families.

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