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Lent for the Family: A Simple Guide


Lent begins in less than two weeks! Of all the seasons in the Church Year, Lent always seems to be the most spiritually formative for me. It must have something to do with the death of self it calls us to through intentional sacrifice and repentance. When I give myself to the practice of Lent, not only do I remember his death, but I actually feel crucified with Christ. I can't help but believe that this embodied cruciformity is the kind of life that Jesus calls us into as his disciples. And when we enter fully into his death, it is then that we can truly experience the joy of his resurrection.

My friend and digital illustrator Jeremy Stout and I have been hard at work the last couple weeks on a Lent resource for families and churches. Lent for the Family is a user-friendly, ready-made resource to lead followers of Jesus in a simple practice of Lent. We think that both those who are newer to Lent and long time Lent practitioners will find it instructive and helpful. Families with kids, empty nesters, college roommates, those who live alone, small groups, and entire churches can benefit from this resource. (The image to the right is a centerpiece we designed and give instructions in this resource for you to make and put on your table.)

Here's a blurb with more details about what is included in the packet:

Lent for the Family: A Simple Guide
A ready-made guide to lead your family, group, or church in a simple and meaningful practice of Lent. Contents include:
  • A brief Introduction to Lent: "What Is Lent and Why Should We Practice It?"
  • Ready-for-Print files of guide cards to hand out to your people
  • Ready-for-Web files to post on your website
Card 1 is meant to ease people into the season. It includes directions in discerning a practice, instructions in creating a table centerpiece, and a short daily prayer.

Card 2 consists of an in depth, yet still very simple, prayer and scripture guide to lead us into the Story of God throughout the remainder of the season.

May this resource help you enter faithfully into the death of Christ this season, so that your joy in the resurrection may be complete!

Click here to download the PDF file of this 10-page packet.

If you like it and choose to use it, would you consider making a donation for our work? I normally wouldn't ask, but I am going down to part-time at River Valley Church and will be doing more of this kind of thing as part of my new vocation. We so appreciate your generosity. My PayPal email is reformworship@gmail.com.

Click here to send money using PayPal.

Or, this resource is also available at WorshipTraining.com, so if you are a paying subscriber, feel free to download the file from there. They will compensate me for every click.

Click here to download from WorshipTraining.com.

Finally, if you're interested in learning more about Lent and why I think Christians benefit from practicing it, here is a post from last year: Preparing for Lent.

Peace.

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How to Connect with God in Worship

(Christ Redeemer: Milwaukee, WI)

I read a tweet yesterday by someone who attended a recent worship conference that said:
I love seeing worshipers so disconnected with the audience and stage and so connected with God."
I understand the sentiment of worshipers longing to be in the presence of the Lord with abandon, not getting distracted by what's happening around them. I myself long for the presence of the Lord, and I am prone to distraction, especially technological. BUT, I think comments like this epitomize the individualism of the contemporary worship culture. I think the commenter is making an accurate observation, I just wish he didn't love it. It grieves me that our practices reinforce individualism.

I submit that the way we connect with God in worship is precisely BY connecting with others in the worshiping community. If we're not connecting with others, including the people on the stage, in worship, I don't see how we can connect with God. It's more likely that we are connecting with something our emotions have conjured up. We really have no way of knowing.

Our identity as followers of Jesus is primarily communal. We don't know who we are as individuals until we are part of an embodied community. Our individuality flows out of our communality. (This is very difficult for our Western minds to comprehend.) We gather around the Lord's Table each week, because it is here that we our formed into the body of Christ, and it is from here that we are sent into the world as missionaries.

In our homes we connect with others most naturally around the dinner table. We establish and grow relational connections by opening our tables to our neighbors. We do this because we are human, yes, but it means even more for us as Christians, sent ones, who have been given the responsibility of helping others connect with God. Just as Jesus is present with us in the bread an cup in the corporate gathering, we are present in body and blood with others in our homes, inviting them into relationship with us and so with God.

This is not to say that we don't connect with God on an individual level, too, but I feel we are setting ourselves up for failure of private devotion unless our personal connection to God flows out of our communal connection to his body. Do we have an imagination for this?

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