This is a 5-part series focusing on exploring spiritual care practices during the season of Lent. Stephen Macchia, in his book “Crafting a Rule of Life” says,
All of us have an unwritten personal rule of life that we are following, some with great clarity, others unknowingly. We wake at certain times, get ready for our days in particular ways, use our free time for assorted purposes and practice rhythms of work, hobbies, worship, vacation and so on. There is already a rule in place that you are following today. Isn’t it time to give up our unwritten rule and prayerfully write one that more closely matches the heartbeat of God?
Jesus enters into the wilderness for 40 days. We often participate in some Lenten practice, whether it is fasting from food, TV, or chocolate. But instead of fasting from things that give us pleasure, what if we fast from the things that draw us away from the rhythm of God. What if we fast from busyness, consumption, noise, monotony, and anxiety. Below are some ways we incorporated these spiritual practices within worship and outside of worship.
For the sanctuary art, I wanted to create a wall of blooming flowers as a symbol of making space in our lives for these spiritual practices and discovering what may bloom in us as we practice them.
I created a variety of different size paper flowers.
- 8-12″ cardboard cake rounds
- hot glue & glue gun
- cardstock (weight 60)
- tissue paper
To make the flowers, I used this YouTube tutorial. If you go to her website, you can download the petal templates.
Depending on how you want to hang the flowers, you will need material to hang them. I used 5 ft. hanging wire to create a grid. The flowers were then wired to the grid to form this pattern.
We created a Lent Guide filled with reflections as well as spiritual practices to follow.
First sunday of lent
Scripture: Luke 4:1-13 – Jesus in the Wilderness
Focus: Fasting from Busyness
In her book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark,” Barbara Brown Taylor says,
If you are in the middle of your life, maybe some of your dreams of God have died hard under the weight of your experience. You have knocked on doors that have not opened. You have asked for bread and been given a stone. The job that once defined you has lost its meaning; the relationships that once sustained you have changed or come to their natural ends. It is time to reinvent everything from your work life to your love life to your life with God—only how are you supposed to do that exactly, and where will the wisdom come from? Not from a weekend workshop. It may be time for a walk in the dark.
In the wilderness, the Devil tried to test Jesus by focusing on what the Devil thought would be Jesus’ vulnerabilities – instead they were the core of who Jesus is. In our most vulnerable moments when we feel lost, Taylor invites us to lean into those moments and take a walk in the darkness. There are things in the darkness that we cannot learn in the light. Things that will save us.
Children’s Book: Outside In by Deborah Underwood
Songs & Hymns: We Are Marching in the Light of God and Go On Your Way in Joy, My Friends by Kerri Meyer
Spiritual Practice: Walking
At the end of the service, we had a ribbon cutting of the outside labyrinth. You can read about the construction of the labyrinth here. During the prayer time, people were invited to write positive messages on rocks that would be put alongside the labyrinth in order to bless walkers as they walk.
During this week of worship, people were also invited to participate in a guided tour of Golden Gate Park.
second sunday of lent
Scripture: Luke 22:14-20 – The Lord’s Supper
Focus: Fasting from Consumption
Jesus’ ministry always involved feeding people, whether it was turning water into wine, offering living water, multiplying fishes and loaves, or feeding his disciples the bread of life. Thich Nhat Hanh says,
We eat and drink all the time, but we usually ingest only our ideas, projects, worries, and anxiety. We do not really eat our bread or drink our beverage. If we allow ourselves to touch our bread deeply, we become reborn, because our bread is life itself. Eating it deeply, we touch the sun, the clouds, the earth, and everything in the cosmos. We touch life, and we touch the Kingdom of God.
Children’s Book: Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lilly
Songs & Hymns: All Are Welcome by Marty Haugen, Let Us Break Bread Together, and I’m Gonna Eat at the Welcome Table
Spiritual Practice: Mindful EatingThis was Communion Sunday. I wrote the communion liturgy that used mindful eating practices. People were set at tables and communion element were separated into baskets for people to take back to their tables. In each basket were a variety of different breads of texture, flavor, and smell for participants to choose – tortillas, Hawaiian bread, and crackers.
After worship, we had a potluck so people could continue in the spirit of communion and practice fellowship and a meal together.
3rd Sunday of lent
Scripture: Mark 1:35-45 – Healing of the Man with Leprosy
Focus: Fasting from Noise
Henri Nouwen says,
The real work of prayer
is to be silent
and listen to the voice
that says good things about me.
Children’s Book: The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito
Children’s Activity: Kids were invited to make stress relief jars using a glass or plastic jar that is filled with a mixture of distilled water, glitter, and a viscous substance such as clear glue or liquid glycerin. As the jar is turned upside down, kids can calm themselves as they watch the glitter fall.
Songs & Hymns: There Is a Place of Quiet Rest by Cleland Boyd McAfee
Spiritual Practice: Sitting in Silence
After the sermon, worshippers were invited to sit in silence for 2 min. During that week of worship, participants were invited to attend a Wednesday service that would implement practices of silence and stillness.
fourth sunday of lent
Scripture: Mark 1:40-45 – Healing of the Man with Leprosy
Focus: Fasting from Monotony
John O’Donohue says,
The human soul is hungry for beauty…
When we experience the Beautiful, there is a
sense of homecoming. [We] can slip into the
Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the
seamless embrace of water; something ancient
within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.
Children’s Book: How Beautiful by Antonella Capetti
Songs & Hymns: This Is My Father’s World, What a Wonderful World, Come Holy Beauty
Spiritual Practice: Contemplating Beauty
Participants were invited to create a canvas filled with colors, words, and drawings of things that they see as beautiful. By sharing beauty with one another, our eyes open wider so we can love more deeply. Rolls of paper were taped on the floor and after the sermon, participants could draw or write on it.
fifth sunday of lent
Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34 -Worry
Focus: Fasting from Anxiety
Anne Lamott says,
We make a little gasp of surprised appreciation
when we feel grateful to someone,
and this gives us more breath, which connects us
back to life, where we now have plenty to share.
Who knew? And this is why we were born:
to live, to give, to receive, awaken, expand.
Children’s Book: Ruby Has a Worry by Tom Percival
Children’s Activity: Kids were invited to make worry boxes. They were provided little wooden boxes to decorate and pom pom balls to put it. You attach a worry to each ball and put it in the box.
Songs & Hymns: Great Is Thy Faithfulness, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
One effective way to counter anxiety is to practice gratitude. Worshippers were invited to practice the prayer of examen in their daily lives.
1) Invite God to be with you and inspire your prayer time.
2) Review your day: the things you did, the people you met.
3) Offer gratitude for the blessings of the day. Thank God for the moments when you felt goodness and the moments you gave goodness to another.
4) Pray for the challenges and shortcomings of the day.
5) Look toward the day to come and ask for God’s help in whatever may lie ahead.