Of Paths and Ponderings
A 40-Day Calendar for Lent
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Follow the footprints. Read the corresponding suggestion for the day. Children, color the footprint after each suggestion has been read.
Throughout much of the history of the Christian church, Lent has been a time of self-denial and examination, a time to ponder what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness preparing for his ministry. How can we prepare ourselves to follow in his path?
This lenten calendar encourages us to take time to think, to reflect, to discern God's will in our lives and in the world. Suggestions for thought or action are offered for each of the forty days of Lent. Set aside time each day to consider the day's suggestion. Each Saturday during this lenten season, you will be invited to spend time in quiet reflection. On several of the forty days, you will be encouraged to collect money to share with those in need. Choose a program you want to support, and find an empty coffee can or other container to collect your offerings. At the end of the forty days, give your offering to the organization of your choice.
1 Ash Wednesday. Fasting, praying and almsgiving are common lenten practices. Matthew 6:1 grounds these in justice. How might these activities promote more justice in our world? Find a quiet place where you can pray and reflect this Lent.
2 Thursday. For the next two days, turn off the car radio as you travel. Use this time for quiet reflection. Give 10¢ for every mile you drive during these two days.
3 Friday. Read Matthew 6:19-21. How do you store up for yourself treasures here on earth? Look around you. How can your life be more simple and peaceful regarding what you eat, drive and wear?
4 Saturday. O Gracious God, let us see that treasures of the world appear dim in the light of your glory and grace. Help us to raise our hearts and our minds to things not of this world. Spend 15 to 30 minutes in quiet reflection.
First Sunday in Lent. Read Matthew 4:1-11.
5 Monday. In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times around issues of power, possessions and prestige. How can we recognize these excesses in our lives and learn to balance our lives for the glory of God?
6 Tuesday. "The avarice of [hu]mankind is insatiable," wrote Aristotle 23 centuries ago. Remember a time you were tempted to purchase something you really didn't need. What forces were at play?
7 Wednesday. Many people are tempted to buy things they don't need. Consider using this time of Lent to develop better consumer habits. For the next six weeks, try to buy only those things you really need. Make a diary of what transpires.
8 Thursday. What are your special gifts or talents? List them. How are you tempted by arrogance or pride to use these gifts primarily for your own satisfaction or personal gain? Offer praise to God for your gifts. Give 25¢ for each gift you listed.
9 Friday. Power represents the ability to influence. How do you have power over others? Do you ever misuse your power or position of authority?
10 Saturday. In To Dance With God, Gertrud Mueller writes, "Perhaps prayer is less an exercise to get God, out there in never-never land, to hear us, as it is our hearing and responding to God as [God] reveals [God's] self to us . . . ." Spend 15 to 30 minutes in silent reflection.
Second Sunday in Lent. Read John 3:1-17.
11 Monday. "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes." (John 3:8) Are there things in your life that seem out of your control? How might God be at work?
12 Tuesday. Creator God, in you we are reborn of the spirit. Make in us a dwelling place for your love and compassion. That the path we walk be filled with your light, we pray, O God. Amen.
13 Wednesday. It often seems there are too many demands and not enough hours in the day. What do you wish you had more time for? How can you make that happen?
14 Thursday. Spend some time outside today. Pay attention to what is going on around you. How does the wind feel against your skin? What noises do you hear? Is the Earth beginning to be reborn into spring?
15 Friday. There is a saying - "If you want time to yourself, do the dishes!" Think of the times during your day when you have a few moments to yourself - while bathing, brushing your teeth, driving to work, etc. Take these opportunities to ponder the miracle of rebirth.
16 Saturday. Spend 15 to 30 minutes in silence today. Give 5¢ for each noise you hear.
Third Sunday in Lent. Read John 4:5-42.
17 Monday. Jesus disregarded custom when he conversed with the woman at the well. How are you called to reach out to those different from you - the forgotten and the disenfranchised?
18 Tuesday. We like to think that we are beyond the schoolyard days of shunning or tormenting another. Are there any "outsiders" in your life today?
19 Wednesday. Jesus offers the Samaritan woman living water. Remember a time when you were thirsty. Are there times when you are spiritually thirsty? How are you sustained by "living water"?
20 Thursday. Make it a point to smile today. Warmly greet each person you encounter. Give 5¢ for every person you are privileged to speak with today.
21 Friday. Sustainer God, renew our spirits with your living water. Give us strength to do your work in the world, reaching out to those who suffer and are outcast.
22 Saturday. Read Psalm 95. Spend 15 to 30 minutes in silence.
Fourth Sunday in Lent. Read John 9:1-41.
23 Monday. In Jesus time, it was against the law to perform works - even miracles, it seems - on the Sabbath. Can you think of any present-day laws or customs that do not fit with the teachings of Jesus? Give 5¢ for each one.
24 Tuesday. The Pharisees were on the lookout for actions they could use to condemn Jesus. When you are "against" someone, do you, like the Pharisees, search for ways to support your attitudes? How is God calling you to reassess your attitudes?
25 Wednesday. How are we blind to what's going on around us? Read through today's newspaper and choose one topic or situation to learn more about. In the next week, visit the library and read more on the topic.
26 Thursday. Jesus reached out to those in need around him. Who is in need in your community? How can you help?
27 Friday. Does God continue to work miracles? Give 25¢ for each miracle you have witnessed or experienced.
28 Saturday. Someone once said, "Worship is transcendent wonder." How do you worship the Lord, your God? Spend 15 to 30 minutes in silent reflection.
Fifth Sunday in Lent. Read John 11:1-45.
29 Monday. John tells us that Jesus went to Judea where his enemies laid in wait. Remember a time you were called to walk a path that was difficult or dangerous. Was it a time when you stood up for something you believed? Perhaps it was a time of illness. What lighted your way?
30 Tuesday. "One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer." (G. E. Lessing, 1767)
31 Wednesday. Jesus brought Lazarus back to life! Can Jesus change things in our lives today?
32 Thursday. What non-monetary gift can you offer another today? A listening ear? A renewed effort at patience or understanding? A kind word? Your sense of humor?
33 Friday. The darkness and quietness of Lent reflect the season of winter. Pay attention to seasonal changes taking place. What parts of winter will you mourn when winter gives way to spring? Make a list. Give 10¢ for each.
34 Saturday. Gertrud Mueller defined prayer as a "relaxation of control over our thoughts." Spend 15 to 30 minutes in silent prayer today.
Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm/Passion Sunday). Read Matthew 21:1-11.
35 Monday. Read John 12:1-11. Mary used costly perfume to anoint Jesus' feet. What is valuable in your life today? time? money? relationships? How can you use these things to honor Jesus?
36 Tuesday. Read John 12:20-36. In relinquishing our ego to do God's will, a part of us dies. How can this "dying" bring greater life and abundant joy?
37 Wednesday. Read John 13:21-32 aloud over dinner tonight. As you converse over your meal, talk about the meaning of Easter. Give 50¢ for every dish of food on your table.
38 Maundy Thursday. Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. Jesus says, "Servants are not greater than their masters." Is there anyone or any group over whom you feel superior?
39 Good Friday. Read John 18:1-19:42. Over 100 years ago, Thomas Carlyle wrote, "If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it." How do you crucify Jesus today?
40 Easter Eve. O God, who called your son to Jerusalem, give us strength to do your will. In darkest hours, help us to see your light and to follow the path you lay before us. Spend 30 minutes to one hour in silent reflection.
! Easter Sunday Evening. Read Luke 24:13-49. Gather with family or friends and sing a favorite Easter hymn. Have each person bring a bell and ring it loudly. Proclaim together, "He is risen, he is risen indeed!"
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