Lenten Guidelines for Lenten Conversation 2015

Lenten Guidelines For Lenten Conversations 2015

Lent is a 40-day journey that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015 and ends on Good Friday, April 3, 2015 this year. The Sundays during Lent are to be celebrated because they remind us of the resurrection that took place three days after the death of Jesus. Christians in the early church would use the Lenten Season to prepare for public baptism on Easter Sunday morning and thereafter became members of the church. The preparation signified their desire to die to the old ways of thinking and living and to be transformed by the renewing of their minds into the resurrected life of Christ.

Lent can be described as an invitation to lay down all the inner burdens that plague us, and the indifference and greed that distracts us from a whole-hearted commitment to God. In Lent we come to the Cross exposing all our sin. We will receive forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Then, and only then, can we experience the full joy of Easter Sunday morning.

The Sunday Psalm Readings from the Liturgy will be our Lenten Guide this year. Our webinar will be held on the Monday morning following the Sunday of Lent.

Week of Lent                                      Date                                    Psalm
Ash Wednesday                                  February 18, 2015               Psalm 51:1-17
First Sunday of Lent                           February 22, 2015               Psalm 25: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Second Sunday of Lent                      March 1, 2015                      Psalm 116: 10,15, 16-17, 18-19
Third Sunday of Lent                          March 8, 2015                     Psalm 19: 8, 9, 10, 11
Fourth Sunday of Lent                        March 15, 2015                    Psalm 137: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Fifth Sunday of Lent                           March 22, 2015                   Psalm 51: 3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Passion (Palm) Sunday                       March 29, 2015                   Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

Lent is an opportunity not an obligation. It can be a time to “Fast From and Feast On.” Here are some suggestions by William Arthur Ward, American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994. You might want to choose one for each week of Lent to focus on.

Fast from judging others; Feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
ast from emphasis on differences; Feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; Feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; Feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; Feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; Feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; Feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; Feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; Feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; Feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from personal anxiety; Feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; Feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; Feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; Feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; Feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; Feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; Feast on purposeful silence>
Fast from problems that overwhelm; Feast on prayer that [strengthens].

Prayer is another important part of the Lenten Journey. Ever since the Fourth Century, The Prayer of St. Ephrem The Syrian has been a Guide for the Church.

                                O Lord and Master of my life
remove from me the spirit of sadness, despair, thirst for power and vain talk.
                                     Instead, grant me, Your servant,
                         the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love.
                                               Indeed, O Lord and King,
                   grant that I see my own sins and not judge my brother or sister,
                                    for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Here are the four negative obstacles that can be removed with this Prayer:
Remove from me the spirit of sadness or laziness:
We are convinced that change is not possible.
Remove from me the spirit of despair or faintheartedness:
We see nothing that is good or positive.
Remove from me the spirit of thirst or lust for power:
We want to become lord of our own lives.
Remove from me the spirit of vain or idle talk:
Our words become the agent of sin.

Here are the four positive gifts this Prayer offers you:
Grant me the spirit of prudence or whole-mindedness:
Restore the true scale of values that lead us back to God.
Grant me the spirit of humility:
See God’s majesty and goodness and love in everything.
Grant me the spirit of patience:
Reflect infinite respect for all things.
Grant me the spirit of love:
The sum total of all our quests.

Companions on the Journey
Find a companion or two to travel with on the journey.  
Read the Psalm daily and you might even want to write it out using one or two other bible translations, such as The Message, The Web, NLT.
Use a notebook to jot down your thoughts and feelings about what the Psalm is saying to you. 
Share your insights with your companion on the journey, whenever you commit to meet.
Write a personal prayer based on the Psalm each week.
Daily begin and end your personal devotional time with the Prayer of St. Ephrem.