Today is Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the Lenten season. As followers of Christ, my husband and I observe this season annually, but this is the first year that our boys have been old enough to grasp the reality of sacrificing things that they love in order to contemplate Jesus’ death on the cross for us…the ultimate in sacrifice and self-denial.
During our family time this morning, we talked about Lent and what we want this season to look like for our family. And, for a rabbit trail..can we just put it out there…having family time together in the morning is hard work. We’ve only done it consistently for about 3 months, and there hasn’t been a time yet when a child didn’t get in trouble and someone didn’t end up crying or fighting over who got to pray first. Whew! Hard work I tell you, but so worth it!
After our time together, I went to work looking for some tangible things that we could use in our family during Lent. We each chose one thing that we plan to surrender for the season, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted us to experience more than giving up a few of our guilty pleasures…like sodas and candy. I’ve read several books..okay, every book written to date, by a guy named Rob Bell, who is the founding pastor of a church called Mars Hill Bible Church. This man radiates grace, and I don’t know about you, but I am captivated by people who not only accept God’s grace but who live under it and extend it to others. So, I went to their website and not only did I find a great sermon series that he is doing on Lent out of the book of Jonah, but I also found some pretty outstanding resources that we plan to use with our family. I wanted to include them in the hopes that it will help you, who are interested, to know more about this season that means everything to someone who follows Jesus.
Here you will find a Lent Calendar that will give you some great ideas for how to honor this season with your family each day of the season until Easter Sunday. We’re still going to sacrifice our sodas and candy, but I love the idea of adding these things on the calendar because it will help all of us to daily focus on why we are honoring this season.
And, below is the first part of the sermon series that Rob Bell is doing during this Lent season at their church. There is a study guide for those interested in the 6 week study of Jonah that can be found here.
From deep in the realm of the dead Jonah calls for help. And God listens to his cry.
Jonah and the big fish—it’s a story for Bible storybooks and Sunday school flannelboards. It requires us to believe the impossible, but more than that, it forces us to confront truths that we’re more comfortable relegating to children’s stories and myths. We don’t want to take seriously its claims.
But Jesus saw the story of Jonah as central to everything he was doing through his death and resurrection—he called it the sign of Jonah.
Few stories capture the spirit of repentance and return like the story of Jonah. It’s a story of God’s compassion and longing for all people to return to him. It’s a story of running and returning, of illusions and disillusions, of disobedience and spiteful obedience, and ultimately about a world completely transformed by God’s love.
What if we could name our own illusions about how the world ought to work and open ourselves to the world God longs to bring into being?
What if coming to the end of ourselves brought us to a new beginning in God?
What if God’s compassion were planted so deeply into our being
that it would challenge all of
Thanking God for his grace and truth,