By Pastor Dan and Laurie Wilburn

What is Lent…?
The Lent season starts on Ash Wednesday (this year, February 10th).  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days Jesus spent praying and fasting in the desert. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on your forehead as a sign of mourning and repentance to God (telling him we are sorry for the times we mess up and not being who he created us to be).  Lent lasts for 40 days (some traditions say the six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday – not counting Sundays, some say the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday which is the beginning of Holy Week). Either way, the 40 days commemorate Jesus’ time of prayer and fasting in the desert (see Luke 4: 1 – 13).

Lent is intended to be a time of fasting and/or practicing spiritual disciplines:
– To help us repent of our sins and of our lack of pursuit of God and his desires for us; and
– To reflect on Jesus – his life, his suffering, and his death and resurrection.
Use your this Lent Guide as a way to lean in to this season and draw nearer to our God!

The General Plan for this season of Lent…
This season of Lent you can rally a group of friends or extended family every Sunday night to have a Lent discussion (like many of you did for Advent).  However, it might also be a more Lent-like approach to have just your family to be together and reflect.
When people get together they often have snacks.  Since Lent is often a time of giving up something, consider forgoing the special snack we encourage families to have during Advent and serve a “lent-like” snack.  Maybe serve toasted Naan bread or make your own bread and just have water to drink.

The Details…
We want to challenge Lakelanders to do four things during each week of Lent that we will then discuss in our family/friend groups each Sunday evening of Lent.  It is a simple plan – appropriate for Lent…

1. STOP:  Stop/disrupt your usual media usage
a. Adults:  Stop your usual intake of news media, worldly voices (e.g., stop reading the newspaper, listening to the TV/Radio news, FB, etc)
b. Kids:  Give up a tech game (e.g, Madden Mobile) or a most used social media outlet (Instagram, Twitter…)

2. START: Start listening to the voice of God in scripture.
a. Adults: Use your usual media time to read the Bible.  Read (or listen to) a chapter of Luke each day.  After 24 days… just keep reading the Bible.
b.Kids: Spend 5-10 minutes a day reading your Bible

3. GIVE: (Everyone) Work on how you can give something away to a stranger at least once a week.  Be creative.  Some ideas include:
a. Give someone a kind word.  Tell someone (in person or in a note) their hair looks nice or they have a kind voice.  Be sincere and specific.
b. Give of your time to serve someone.  It can be as quick as taking someone’s grocery cart back in the store for them or more involved like serving at a soup kitchen.
c. Give of your resources – Pay for the groceries of the person in front of you or the fast food bill of someone in the drive through.  Write a check to a charitable organization that has been on your heart. Hand someone who appears to be in need a $10 bill. What if someone compliments an article of clothing or jewelry?  Have you ever considered giving it to them?  Yikes!

4. RECEIVE: (Everyone) As an act of receiving what God has given us, ask each family member to write with a Sharpie on a sticky note (or have the parent write for their child) one thing for which they are grateful.  Do this each night (Monday-Saturday).  Place the sticky notes on a wall in your kitchen or living room, on your fridge or kitchen cabinets.  Don’t remove your old ones, keep adding new sticky notes (with different things to be grateful for) each day.  By the end of Lent you will have a house full of gratitude.

EACH SUNDAY of Lent (2/14, 2/21, 2/28, 3/6, 3/13, 3/20)

1.    Gather around your sticky notes.  Take a few moments to have each person read his or her notes for the week aloud.  Then have each person pick their favorite and tell why they picked that particular thing for which to be grateful.
2.    Discuss how you “gave” in the past week.  Talk about how the receiving person reacted and how you felt.
3.    Share as desired about your “stop” and “start” activities.  How did it go?  What did God say or do through these things?
4.    If you have a story that would encourage others, post it for other Lakelanders (unless you stopped social media!) Hashtag #lccclent