Journey Toward Understanding
Graphic from Alternatives' collection Worship Alternatives: Art | More ART
Use this 40-day guide for your personal inspiration and growth. Share it with others! Make as many copies as you like without paying any royalty.
SCROLL DOWN to read.
During this Lenten season we are called to be mindful of our relationship to God and Jesus, other people and creation. Set aside time each day during Lent to reflect on these relationships; to repent and to make lifestyle changes when it becomes clear that changes need to be made.
Our Lenten reflection encourages us to follow the life and teachings of Christ as he ministers to the poor and dispossessed, the forgotten and the oppressed. To follow in this ministry, use a rice bowl (could be a bowl, can, jar, etc.)to collect "sacrificial change" as you work through this calendar. You can donate the contents to help feed the many starving of the world.
Begin with number 1 of the calendar on Ash Wednesday. Follow the calendar through Lent, excluding Sundays.
1 Read Luke 5:29-35. For the next three days, turn off your car radio and/or tape player as you travel to and from work. Use this time for quiet reflection. How does this affect your life?
2 Reflect on how you can heal your own spirit. Do one thing that will uplift the spirit of another today.
3 Reflect on how important your "self-image" is to you. Recall a time when you went against cultural or social norms. How did you feel?
4 Take a walk outside. Reflect on your relationship with nature, God's creation. Is it healing or destructive?
5 Read Luke 4:1-13. Are the temptations of Christ reflected in your life? Do you live a seemingly comfortable life of self-satisfaction, privilege, control, and power? How does your life test the boundaries of God's limits?
6 What foods tempt you? Most people in the world have a very restricted diet. For the rest of the week, eat only locally grown food which is in season. Take note of your menu and budget.
7 We are often tempted by power or control. Identify at least three ways you exert power over others in your daily life. Seek to modify this behavior.
8 What are your idols? Could they be cars, clothes, beauty, money, nationalism, security, military prowess? How do these idols affect the lives of others in your community and around the world? Start to write down things you buy this month.
9 Cars are idols for many in our culture. Begin planning to carpool, take public transportation, ride a bike or walk to school or work all of next week. How will this change your life?
10 Clothes are idols for many people. For every piece of designer clothing in your house contribute 50¢ to your rice bowl.
11 If Jesus were alive today, would he approve of the large shrines built in his honor? Do you tithe to your church? Find out how your money is being spent. Does your church need a more extravagant building when so many live on the streets?
12 In your reflection today listen as God speaks to you. Is God urging you to live more mindful of creation? Can you hear or feel God's voice? Why or why not?
13 Some people are afraid of what they might hear from God in a time of reflection. What would one fear? Select one of your greatest fears and take steps to overcome it.
14 People tend to fear what is different or what they do not understand (ideas, people, different cultures, races, ways of life). Think of a group of people you fear or dislike, and consider why you might not like them.
15 In many parts of the world and increasingly in this country, water is becoming more and more scarce. Today limit yourself to bathing with one gallon of water. Reflect on how we waste water in our daily lives.
16 With friends, share a meal of a locally grown carbohydrate and water. Think of people who will eat something similar today. Enjoy each other's friendship. Place the money you would have spent on a meal in your rice bowl.
17 Read Luke 13:1-9. Reflect on how you display greed in your own life. List ways in which you are greedy. Take one of these ways and work toward overcoming it.
18 Greed is a way to power. There are many ways in which individuals, groups and governments demonstrate greed. List those you can think of. Take action to eliminate one form of societal greed which directly affects you.
19 We as a nation use 14% of the world's water; 43% of the world's gasoline. Put 25¢ into your rice bowl for each water tap, appliance and car you own.
20 Reflect on the billions of people in the world who do not have food, let alone cars, electricity, and clean water. Contribute 50¢ to the rice bowl every time you eat meat today.
21 Become acquainted with a person whom you would normally avoid (because of race, age, class, disability, etc.). Observe over time how your attitude toward that person changes.
22 Alone or in a group, pick up trash along a street in your town. Think of this as a gift/tribute to God and the people of the area. Reflect on other ways you can nurture the environment.
23 Read Luke 15:1-3 and 11-32. Jesus speaks of resentment, forgiveness, and appreciating the gifts you have. Compare your life with others in your community (including the homeless, sick, and disabled). Name three things you are grateful for.
24 Think of a humbling experience you have had. What lesson did you learn? Select one area in your life where you can practice humility.
25 Be mindful of all that you consume. Review the list the things you have bought in the last month. Distinguish between wants and needs. For each item that you did not "need" give 15¢ to your rice bowl.
26 Give 50¢ for each bag of garbage you used this week. For each plastic or Styrofoam container you used (include those your food came packaged in) add 5¢. Reflect on the space in our country being consumed by landfills and toxic waste dumps.
27 Write a letter to someone close to you offering or asking for forgiveness. Decide if you want to actually send the letter to the person. How do you feel now?
28 What gifts or talents do you have which you rarely if ever use? Use one of those talents today.
29 Read John 12:1-8. We can follow Jesus' teachings by ministering to the oppressed and dispossessed. Make plans to work on Palm Sunday at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, nursing home, or shelter for battered women. Make it a joyful occasion.
30 For every pair of shoes you own contribute a quarter to the rice bowl. Do your spring housecleaning early: donate new and "good" used clothing, blankets, pillows, etc. to a shelter.
31 Hospitality is a gift in many cultures. Hosts honor guests by giving them the best they have. Invite a lonely person or destitute family to share a meal with you Easter weekend.
32 Give someone in your family or a friend a gift of love in the form of a deed (foot massage, an offer to baby-sit, flowers you have grown, etc.). What part do gifts and giving play in your life?
33 Be mindful that the final week of Lent is approaching. Has the spirit of change taken hold of your life? It is never too late to begin again.
34 Plan a clean-up campaign in a section of your town that needs a face lift. Get people from all parts of town and of all ages to participate. Bring music and make it fun.
35 Read Luke 19:28-40. Following Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he entered the temple to interrupt business as usual. How can you interrupt "business as usual" in the world today?
36 In Holy Week, Latin Americans identify with their suffering liberator. Jesus did not just die for their sins, rise and leave them. He continues to live, suffer and die in their lives. Does Jesus liberate us from oppression, removing idols that blind us from loving one another?
37 Be mindful of the Jesus who is very much alive today. Remember the Jesus who is a political prisoner of corrupt economic power . . . the Jesus whose heart is pierced by bullets and bayonets . . . the Jesus who continues to speak of the power of love.
38 Have a Passover Seder at your church. Jews were cautioned not to rejoice in the death of Egyptians, although it was through their enemies' deaths that Jews were liberated. Can this story apply to 20th century U.S.A.?
39 Jesus' death embarrassed those who valued success. Those few followers that didn't abandon him understood Jesus showed how far love will go to be faithful. Do we understand it is in dying that we are born to eternal life?
40 Anticipate the celebration of life that Easter brings. Reflect on the changes that have taken place in your life and prepare to celebrate that change to new life.
Easter: The message of Jesus at Easter was Shalom, Peace. Reflect on where you should seek peace in your life.
Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi
© Creative Commons (originally Alternatives for Simple Living)
For other celebration resources, visit SimpleLivingWorks.org
Resources for responsibly living and celebrating since 1973.
Page updated 3 Jan. 2014
Simple Living Works! * SimpleLivingWorks@Yahoo.com
BLOG: SimpleLivingWorks.WordPress.com | Blog INDEX
PODCAST | Podcast INDEX
MISSION: Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly // An all volunteer educational organization.