Please see the below notes and also the blog updates with weekly readings for the Lent period.
Introduction to Lent Notes- suggestions for suitable activities by Nicola
At [the time of John the Baptist’s ministry], Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came down from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once, the Spirit sent him out into the desert and he was in the desert for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1: 9-13)
Running up to Easter day, the forty days of Lent can be seen as an opportunity to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to withdraw from (parts of?) our normal routine in order to discover our spiritual priorities.
The notes described below are ‘Lent-flavoured’ adaptations (or substantial revisions!) of earlier notes on spiritual exercises (or “disciplines”), taken mainly from Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline (CD) and Donald S Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (SDCL). They are intended to be used by anybody, from someone for whom the idea of spiritual exercises is an entirely novel idea, to others with more experience. They are designed to be spring-boards, not strait-jackets.
I’ve had a go at most of them, but have included some which I’ve not had time try myself (perhaps this Lent is my opportunity!). We want to know how helpful they are so please email the church office with your experiences, with the phrase ‘Lent Notes’ in the subject line. We have a lot to gain by sharing what works to deepen our spiritual lives –and what doesn’t. And if one exercise doesn’t work for you, try another!
Reading God’s Word
This is a list of readings, grouped into chunks, which will be added to each week of Lent. Dip into the list, read what you can, and see what each adds to your understanding of why Jesus came to die for us.
Spiritual exercises are intertwined. You may find yourself starting to ponder over a reading more deeply. If that is the case, you might like to use one of the meditation techniques described here.
This is probably the exercise most commonly associated with Lent – a lot of people seem to contemplate ‘giving something up for Lent’. Fasting doesn’t have to be ‘total’, and it doesn’t need to be food or drink related. It could be ‘fasting’ from a particular activity, or it could from a luxury that has become a ‘necessity’. It could even be a fast from words –‘a partial fast’ where you try to holding back from saying critical, negative or gossipy words, or something a bit more extreme! See what the notes suggest to you.
Using Silence and Solitude
This exercise has links with ‘fasting’. We are a generation with unparalleled access to communication, information and entertainment. Sometimes we need to take a break, to give God a chance to get a word in edgeways. These notes give suggestions for approaches you could try, so take a look to see what might suit you.
Taking time to reflect on the day
Looking back over our day may help us to see what’s going on in our lives, and to recognise what God wants to teach us. These notes suggest two approaches.