The Lenten Journey of Love:
Sharing, Not Suffering
The Christian season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday (March 1), and ends with Easter Sunday (April 16). Traditionally, this has been a time of deep spiritual introspection and examination among Christians, a reminder of our own mortality as well as a re-dedication to living a life marked by the hope of life everlasting.
The practice of personal suffering has long been synonymous with this forty-day season. In our American context, however, participating in suffering during Lent often takes the form of denying personal wants in rituals like, refraining from eating meat, or giving up soda and sweets. In my experience, it is not uncommon for people who take part in this form of Lenten observance to report an experience of feeling sad and generally irritated in the midst of it; afterward, they can feel confused over the relevance of such actions to the life of Christian faith.
This year, why not consider ways to increase your capacity for sharing, rather than suffering? Take the Lenten Journey of Love, preferably with a few friends or family members to increase the fruits of your sharing. During each of the six weeks of Lent, you’ll have opportunities to give heart-felt gifts and make connections, to spread happiness and restore relationships.
This year, consider following this simple path that calls you into an encounter with community, and leads to a God whose name is Love.
Todd Shumpert, Pastor of Spiritual and Missional Engagement
FIRST WEEK: The Hand of Love
Write a letter this week (or a letter a day!) to a friend, near or far away. Tell someone how much you appreciate him or her.
SECOND WEEK: The Voice of Love
Telephone someone each day (or two or three people!) for a short chat just to tell them what they mean to you, or to say, “Thank You” or “I’m Sorry.” Call people you’ve intended to phone but somehow never have.
THIRD WEEK: The Deed of Love
This week, take something you’ve made or bought to two or three friends who mean so much to you but for whom you rarely express your love – a pie, a plant, or some other small remembrance that has your love as a wrapping.
FOURTH WEEK: The Heart of Love
Make a list of at least ten people for whom you will pray daily. Include your friends, your enemies, those you don’t like; forgive them if they have wronged you, and ask forgiveness if you have wronged them.
FIFTH WEEK: The Mind of Love
Use this week to pray for yourself and look inward. Read the Book of John. Plan to go to church early on Palm Sunday to meditate and pray in the sanctuary.
SIXTH WEEK: The Victory of Love
This is the week of celebration. God’s love for us is revealed in many ways. Get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Have friends over for dinner and games. Let your joy be full with life abundant in faith, hope, and love.