What does Lent mean to you? Does the season make you think of dying eggs and the Easter bunny? Do you think of baskets of chocolate? Do you start dreaming of spring, with sundresses and summer hats? Or does Ash Wednesday start a 40 days of celebrating your faith?
What can we do to honor God for the next 40 days?
1. Devotions: Lent can be a time of family focus on the meaning of the Christian life. You may want to commit to a regular pattern of family worship – daily, weekly, or whenever you can. Or you may post Bible verses, especially the words of Jesus, on the refrigerator, bathroom mirrors, wherever a busy family is sure to see them. Join a Lenten Bible study.
2. Giving up: Traditionally, especially in Europe, during Lent there were no weddings, no dancing, no singing. No flowers or alleluias in churches. Some families may find spiritual value in giving up something for Lent – television, sweets, video games – not as a penance, but as an outer symbol of dying to self during a season of spiritual reflection.
3. Pretzels: Bake your own pretzels (check your own cookbooks, library or Internet for recipe – or buy the frozen ones). Pretzels originated as early Christian Lenten treats, designed in the form of arms crossed in prayer.
4. Easter Seals: Support or volunteer for this organization, founded in 1934 as a means to raise funds to help children with disabilities. In the original words, “Easter means Resurrection and New Life, and the rehabilitation of crippled children means new life and activity . . . physically, mentally, spiritually.”
5. Giving: While we usually think of Christmas for gift-giving, Easter has a richer heritage. God gave His Son. Jesus gave His life. Find ways to give unconditionally: money to the homeless person on the corner, treats for those in nursing homes, old clothes to children in another country. Jesus told us clearly, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
6. Handel’s Messiah: I have told you I love music, this is a great way to celebrate Easter in music. Enjoy this beautiful classic, clearly composed under divine inspiration – each segment a Bible verse prophesying the birth, life, death, and finally the resurrection of Jesus. (The Hallelujah Chorus was a celebration for Easter morning following the Lenten absence of alleluias.)
Thank you for this season of celebrating the love of your son. Thank you for loving so much that you sent him to live among us and die for our sins.