Ready or not, here we go: Lent starts this Wednesday. Are you ready? Have you got a Lenten practice in mind, a particular form of the traditional Lenten practices prayer, fasting, and almsgiving? Are you giving something up? Taking something on?
If Lent crept up on you this year and you’re looking for some last minute ideas, here’s a little round up for you:
Daily Theology has reposted a nice Lenten reflection by Brian Flanagan from 2012, Why I am Fasting from Facebook for Lent. I particularly liked this comment:
But one difficulty I have with some Lenten practices – my own, particularly – is the way in which they can easily turn into a liturgical version of New Year’s resolutions. Whether fasting from food, or desserts, or television, or, in my case this year, Facebook, Lenten discipline can easily slide from an act of devotion to an act of self-development – 7 habits of highly effective repentant people. And, if by giving up desserts we’re better prepared for swimsuit season, well, that’s just a bonus.
If that rings a little too true to you, check out Margaret Felice’s helpful suggestions of Seven Ways to Observe Lent that have Nothing to Do with Candy.
JustFaith has a very fine Lenten Invitation that includes this framing:
Why fast and deny ourselves? Why face the poverty within us and pay attention to people at the margins of society? What need do we have for Lent’s stark wastelands?
Because there has to be nothing before there can be anything. Because new life, every unanticipated form of creation and persistent possibility, erupts from the wasteland, out of the depths, the silence of the earth, and the dry bones of our desire for newness.
The Jesuits are offering a “Lent-plus” resource Moved to Greater Love, that started this past Sunday and lasts through the first week of Easter (traditionally known as Bright Week).
Of course there’s the classic Operation Rice Bowl, now available as a mobile app! (Anybody want to report back in the comments on how the mobile app compares to the traditional calendar and ricebowl experience??)
Last but not least, as my longtime readers know, there’s Lent Madness! This is a fun program offered by our Episcopalian sisters and brothers (but they welcome participation by other Christians as well) similar to some sports-related thing that happens in March. It’s light-hearted and irreverent, so it won’t appeal to everyone, but I find it a great devotional immersion in the communion of saints: not only the saints we will learn about and vote for to win the Golden Halo, but also the companionship (another term for “communion”) of all the other aspiring saints (another term for “Christians”) who participate.
If this sounds remotely appealing to you, I encourage you to download your bracket and give it a try. You can follow them on facebook or twitter, and check out the Lent Madness website every day to read about the saintly matchup of the day, vote in the poll, and chat about your choices in the comments.