Here's the text of the Lent leaflet we produced last year, feel free to copy. It should fit onto 2 sides of A5, or you could make a bigger leaflet by adding in daily readings for the 40 days.
Lent is the season of 40 days from Ash Wednesday (6th February this year) to Palm Sunday. It recalls the 40 days of fasting and prayer which Jesus spent in the wilderness before his ministry began.
The day before Lent is traditionally a Carnival day (‘carnival’ literally means ‘farewell to meat’). Lent itself is a season of penitence, restraint, and reflection, and a preparation for the joyful celebration of Easter. It is a breathing out, in order to breathe in again, emptying out in order to be filled.
Traditionally, Lent is the time for looking more deeply at our own lives, in order that we become more like Jesus. It is a time for changing our ways to become more like Christ. The focus of all this is Good Friday and the Cross, to which Lent is the route.
Lent practices fall into 3 groups:
Detachment & Simplicity: giving up things which have a hold on us, and embracing a simpler lifestyle.
Repentance: examining ourselves, facing up to our sin and turning away from it. Jesus first words after returning from the wilderness are “Repent, and believe the good news!”
Spiritual practice: taking up things which will deepen our spiritual roots.
Below are some suggested ways in which you might keep Lent. Pick one or two, don’t try to do all of them! On the back page is a suggested Bible reading plan for the 40 days of Lent.
Some Suggestions for Keeping Lent
Detachment & Simplicity
- Fast on Fridays (if it’s medically ok for you to do so), or if fasting is not advisable, abstain from meat on that day.
- Abstain from meat for the whole of Lent
- Identify one thing that has a hold over you (e.g. surfing the Internet, watching TV, gossip, compulsive shopping, your mobile phone) and abstain from it.
- Only buy things with cash, in face-to-face situations.
- Don’t eat out/spend money on entertainment (make your own!), and give away the money you save.
- Go through your clothes and give away anything you’ve not worn in the last 12 months.
- Do a ‘creation tithe’ – cut down by 10% the burden you put on the earth in using fuel, creating pollution, consuming goods.
- Abstain from having the first word, or the last word, in conversation.
- Put a jar in an obvious place and put in 1 coin a day for charity, (good for kids!)
- Spend time each day confessing your sins (you could use the Lord’s Prayer, and pause when you get to ‘forgive us our sins’, or the Jesus Prayer ‘ Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner’)
- Wear something black or purple each day (the colours of mourning) as a sign of repentance.
- Think about someone whom you have wronged, and find a way to apologise and make amends.
- Make the sign of the cross over your forehead, eyes, mouth, heart and hands each morning, placing Christ over what you think, see, say, feel and do.
- Put a cross in a prominent position in your house.
- Give thanks for every meal
- Spend 5m in silence each day – a good way to do this is to simply listen to your own breathing. Then let each breath out be a breathing out of sin and disobedience, and each breath in become a breathing in of forgiveness, grace, and the Holy Spirit.
- Identify something ordinary you do each day (e.g. boiling the kettle, walking the dog), and try to think about God as you do it.
- Do kind things for people, for no reason whatsoever.
- Come to worship 5m earlier, and spend time in prayer and preparation for the service. At the end of the service, spend a moment in prayer bringing to mind what God has said to you.
- Read a book that will deepen your faith.
- Listen to worship music in the car (or the bath!)
Remember: only pick one or two things. This is not a set of laws, it is about opening ourselves to the grace of God.