Like the seasons of our lives, the seasons of the church year come and go with a rhythm of celebration and reflection, sorrow and joy, exuberance and restraint. These seasons invite us deeper into the life of faith as Christ meets us in all these times. Rather than a monochromatic year, the church proclaims the vivid colors that span the entirety of human experience and the cycles of our lives.
Lent is traditionally a time of discipline in the church, a time to focus on almsgiving, prayer and fasting. While we continue to proclaim the grace of Christ’s death and resurrection every Sunday of the church year, this season we do so with emphasis on the disciplines that heighten our awareness of Christ’s sacrifice and the needs of the whole world that still hungers for good news. The feeling of the season is intentionally reflective and pensive.
How might your worship practice highlight this feeling?
Consider teaching your congregation the discipline of silent prayer and meditation in the time of confession, during prayer or after the sermon. Ringing a bell to mark the beginning and end of a time of silence could give worshipers an external focus to ease into the discipline.
Consider highlighting the gifts given for mission during worship. Offer a specific collection for local, domestic or international mission work. Use the Blessing and Sending for Mission (“Evangelical Lutheran Worship Occasional Services for the Assembly,” page 159) at the end of worship to send the assembly out into the world with prayer.
Consider giving families in your congregation copies of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism with information on how to begin and sustain a prayer discipline in the home. Develop and provide a simple resource that might suggest exploring one petition of the Lord’s Prayer each week during the weeks of the season of Lent.