The Joy of Discipleship
A 40-Day Calendar for Lent
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Each Lent we are called to be disciples of Jesus, to learn his teachings and to follow in his footsteps. We often approach Lent as a time of sacrifice and suffering. We give up the things of the world - soda pop, meat, time, etc. - to suffer as Jesus suffered. And yet the forty days of Lent can also be a time of joy. Jesus lives, and through his living, we are given a road map for our journey. We learn how to strengthen our spiritual selves, how to feed the hungry, how to house the homeless, how to empower the poor and disenfranchised. And that is a message of love, healing and joy!
During these forty days, begin a discipline of giving. Decide on an amount of money you will give each day. Make a bank out of an empty coffee can or shoe box to hold the money you collect. Each Saturday of this Lenten season, check in with yourself on how you are doing with this discipline. When Easter arrives, share the money you collect with those in need. Donate the money to your denominational hunger project. Or contribute to a local project, such as Easter dinner for the homeless. In this way, you can share the joy of Jesus living with the world.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.(Psalm 118)
1 Ash Wednesday. Lent is here again. What hopes and fears do you have for this Lenten time? Open yourself to learning new ideas, attitudes, actions, habits. Pray for joy to accompany you during this Lenten season.
2 Thursday. Find a place of solitude for yourself during Lent. Consider this theme: The kingdom of God is not bound by religious law or social custom. How is Lent a time to consider the decisions of our lives?
3 Friday. Offer spur of the moment hospitality tonight. Invite a stranger or friend to a simple dinner.
4 Saturday. Today choose a discipline you will follow this Lent. Is there a practice you can give up or take on that would help you break free of what keeps you from God? Volunteer weekly at a local soup kitchen. Pray or meditate daily. Fast once a week.
First Sunday in Lent.
Read Genesis 9: 8-17 and Mark 1: 9-15.
5 Monday. Jesus was tempted to serve another master, to serve his own needs, to have power over people and things, and to demonstrate his power in a spectacular way. Reflect on this theme. How do you experience these temptations today?
6 Tuesday. Learn to enjoy without owning: what can you borrow rather than buy? Go to the public library and check out Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship or another book.
7 Wednesday. What material possessions, people, fears or emotions do you allow to have power over you? How are you tempted to serve this other "master"?
8 Thursday. Read Luke 14: 25-33. Name one thing that is your most prized possession. How would your life change for the better if you were called to give this one thing up?
9 Friday. Jesus rejected the temptation of power and control. Daily life is full of such choices for us. Find a situation today where you can let go of the need for power and control over someone - child, partner, parent, co-worker.
10 Saturday. Check in with yourself about the discipline you have chosen as well as how your Lenten giving is going. How is it hard, easy? Any surprises?
Second Sunday in Lent.
Read Genesis 17:1-10, 15-19 and Mark 8: 27-38.
11 Monday. When Christ calls, it is an invitation to come and die. Spend time reflecting on this theme of the week. How can you find joy in accepting Jesus' invitation?
12 Tuesday. Does something produce addiction in you - coffee, TV or newspapers, sports, chocolate, soda, snack food? Abstain for the week or longer.
13 Wednesday. To what activities do you devote the greatest amount of time? Make a list to determine where your priorities are.
14 Thursday. Read the list you made yesterday. Are you happy with what it says about your priorities? Are there changes God is calling you to make?
15 Friday. In what ways is God calling you to live a life of love, self-sacrifice and personal suffering? How can you find joy in this? Pray for courage and strength.
16 Saturday. How can you become less possessive of your time and energy? Play catch with a child. Teach a child to ride a bike, sing a song, or crochet a pot holder. Check in with yourself about your chosen discipline.
Third Sunday in Lent.
Read Exodus 20: 1-17 and John 2:13-25.
17 Monday. "My house will be called a house of prayer." Spend time reflecting on this theme of the week. What are the basic values of my faith that I will not compromise?
18 Tuesday. How can you worship God daily in ways that are appropriate and joyful? Memorize and say Psalm 118:24 each morning as you rise. Sing your favorite hymn. Say grace before each meal.
19 Wednesday. There can be great joy in living a life that is consistent with your faith. Find a quiet place and read Psalm 19.
20 Thursday. Does your church family live out the values of justice compassion, love and honor to God? How can you personally strengthen those values in your church? Choose one way and follow through on it this coming Sunday.
21 Friday. Read the ten commandments. How do these basic values reflect God's glory?
22 Saturday. Checkin with yourself about your chosen discipline. The Lenten journey is half over. What have you learned so far? Have you given as much money as you decided on?
Fourth Sunday in Lent.
Read Numbers 21: 4-9 and John 3: 14-21.
23 Monday. Nothing and no one is exempt from God's complete love. Spend time reflecting on this theme of the week. How can you take that love out into the world?
24 Tuesday. Go to your place of solitude. Relax with eyes closed for 5 minutes. Now remember one joyful childhood experience. How did that experience make you feel loved? How can you share that joy with someone else?
25 Wednesday. Read Ephesians 2:1-10 with a friend or family member. Discuss how we are made "alive together" with Christ.
26 Thursday. How can you share God's love? Perform an act of service today for a family member, colleague, neighbor or stranger.
27 Friday. Open yourself to receiving God's love and nurture. Plan and prepare to spend a day in silence this weekend. Pray for openness and discernment as you anticipate this new perspective.
28 Saturday. Check in with yourself about your chosen discipline. Are you able to spend this day in silence? Will you observe a day of silence tomorrow instead?
Fifth Sunday in Lent.
Read Jeremiah 31: 31-34 and John 12: 20-33.
29 Monday. "Unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest." Reflect on this theme. What is God's rich harvest?
30 Tuesday. Find a quiet place and read Psalm 51:1-12. Consider using the text as a prayer. What parts of you must die to better hear the joy and gladness God offers?
31 Wednesday. Find joy in letting go and in sharing. Give away something of value to you - a book, tape, toy, tool.
32 Thursday. Reconciliation often requires a kind of dying. Are there people in your life from whom you are estranged? Is there a first step you can take to restore the relationship?
33 Friday. Jesus said, "Whoever serves me must follow me." How do racial, religious and nationalistic prejudices keep you from nurturing God's rich harvest? Say a prayer of thanksgiving for the diversity of people.
34 Saturday. Check in with yourself about your chosen discipline. How is it going? How has your practice changed since you first began? What are you learning?
Passion/Palm Sunday. Read Isaiah 50: 4-9a, Mark 11: 1-11 and Mark 14: 1 -15:47.
35 Monday. The crowds expected a certain kind of Messiah. Jesus is not a model of triumph and success: his response to the suffering of the world is to join it. Reflect on this theme. What expectations do you have of God for deliverance?
36 Tuesday. Reread Isaiah 50:4-6. Who are the "weary" in your life whom you could "sustain with a word"? Contact the person or persons and offer a listening ear and a kind word.
37 Wednesday. When we approach the death of a loved one, there is much grief. Often there is also much joy as we recount the goodness of their living. Rejoice in the life of Christ. Share with your family or friends one favorite story of Christ's living.
38 Maundy Thursday. Read John 13:1-17. Close your eyes and imagine the scene. How can you find joy in serving others?
39 Good Friday. The crucified Christ teaches us the redemptive value of vulnerability. How can you become more vulnerable? How does Jesus continue to suffer with the victims of injustice today? Can you help bear that cross of suffering?
40 Easter Eve. Go to your place of solitude. Ponder this special day, a day set down between the cross and the empty tomb. Pray, offering God the fruit of your season of discipline. Consider continuing your practice, as Jesus calls us to continue God's work.
Easter Sunday. Read Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24 and John 20: 1-18. Rejoice in the risen Christ. Sing your favorite Easter hymn. Give the money you collected to the organization of your choice, if you haven't done so already.
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