Living Out LentBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Today's stories focus on families that are experiencing this season of extended contrition and contemplation that reminds us who God is.
Last week, Ed Cyzewski reminded us that Lent brings “an opportunity to break away from bad habits, to seek God in the quiet places, and to find where God is at work among us.”
Sam Van Eman wrote about Culture: Fracturedness and Our Need for Lent, quoting author Ann Hagman: “Simplicity is an act of the will to reduce the fracturedness of life by centering life around a singleness of purpose.” Sam suggested that Lent is “a perfect time for this sort of reduction.” Regardless of whether we are removing something good or bad from our lives, “Lent provides both the space and communal support we need.”
More inspiration came from Mark D. Roberts where he offered several reflections on Lent. He pointed out that Ash Wednesday “invites us into a time of extended contemplation and contrition, as we consider during Lent just how much we need One to save us from our sin.” And on day two of Lent, Mark reminded us that “The point of Lent is not what we do, but who God is.”
Lent & Families
I began to search the network for some of that communal support Sam described. Today’s Lenten stories focus on how families are experiencing and exploring this season of “extended contemplation and contrition” that reminds us who God is.
Restoration, Reunion, and a Time to Rebloom
Michelle of Graceful attended her first Ash Wednesday service in more than 20 years. She wrote:
I didn’t get as much out of the actual service as I would have liked. At one point I noticed Rowan’s forehead wiped clean of the ashy cross, and I was momentarily distracted by visions of a shadowy imprint on the back of my polka dot skirt – or at the very least, a black smudge dusting the back side of my tights. I did, however, tune in closely enough to realize this: that Ash Wednesday signifies cleansing, restoration, reunion – a time to strip away distractions and step back from obstacles to inch closer in relationship to God. And though I didn’t hear every word of the sermon, or sing every verse of the hymns, that realization is enough for me.
Having given up social media for Lent, Michelle is finding unexpected benefits, as “pockets of time…yawn open, ripe with possibilities.” Her family is finding time to play, rest and celebrate. She wrote, “Lent, I'm learning, is a time to rebloom.”
Repentance, Forgiveness, and Fresh Starts
Ann of Holy Experience created a tangible way for her family to repent, to forgive, and to experience fresh starts, using the symbol of a bowl of flour—white dust—and a passage of Scripture. Step by step, her family is learning to confess. “Here, in dust,” Ann explained, “the dust repents, is forgiven and offers forgiveness, and our real repentance isn't an event but a way of living and this is a beginning.” Ann provides another tool for her family during this season, a Box of Repentances or as a friend of hers in Wales called it, a “Sorry Box,” in which ongoing confessions can be tucked:
As the day rolls out, and snags here and there, we find ourselves, Mama and Dad, big kids and little, taking a moment to confess our sins on small cards, slipping them into our box of repentances. In this practice we are experiencing it afresh: Confessing sins is a cleansing, emancipating grace.
On Easter morning, they will burn up the cards, the confessions. “Because they are,” Ann exclaimed, “astoundingly, no more, because of Christ who did it all.”
Anatomy of an Apology
Jezamama led her children through the anatomy of an apology…and thought about those she needs to forgive during Lent, as well.
Coming to grips with being wrong is difficult. Coming to understand where the places of broken filth have grown; hidden and undisturbed is overwhelming...when you try to do it alone. Abiding in God, asking for his direction will lead you into the relationships that need His hand to mend. Because He understands completely your heart and the heart of those you've slighted. He can see the full truth. He knows the best timing. He knows the words that need to be spoken. … Why did my little one have such a difficult time asking for forgiveness? Why do we? This seems to be the one part of an apology that we forget. To ask for forgiveness leaves you vulnerable. Hanging wide open for rejection and hurt. No one likes to purposefully hang themselves out there for others to potentially trample on. We tend to avoid that type of conflict at all costs. If you desire to be forgiven...then you need to not only be heard by the person you've offended, but give them the opportunity to be heard. Giving them the choice. Giving them the voice. Giving them permission to speak into their pain...will leave you white knuckled hanging onto God by a thread.
Finally, Jennifer of Getting Down with Jesus invites individuals and families alike to “come alive” this Lenten season, letting God breathe life into our dry bones through His Word.
Daily, we open His Word. We don't make it complicated. We aren't monks. We don't even always understand it all. And we're OK with that, for we love the mystery and we welcome the questions. Daily, we dine on these Words, and they bring life to these dry bones when the joy and peace has drained.
How are you living out Lent?
Stories collected by Ann Kroeker of annkroeker.com. Photo by Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience. Used with permission.