Lenten Reflections

Lent is the 40 day period (not counting Sundays) before Easter.
Traditionally used for reflection, repentance and resolve to live differently.

See http://www.kencollins.com/holy-04.htm for more information on Lent


SHROVE TUESDAY – 24 February. Day before Lent.

Sometimes known as ‘pancake Tuesday’ from the tradition of using up the eggs and fat in the house before the Lenten fast.
Suggestion: Gather friends together to make and eat pancakes. Talk together about changes you would like to make to who you are and how you live your life.


ASH WEDNESDAY – 25 February. 1st day of Lent
Traditionally a day for repentance (making new beginnings). Most Anglican and Catholic churches will have an ashing service on this day.

Suggestion: Write on paper some personal things from the past year that you regret or would change if you could. Burn the paper in a bowl, remembering that God forgives you, and keep the ash. On a clean piece of paper, draw a symbol using the ash to remind you of one new pattern of living you’d like to make into a habit during Lent. Hang this on a door or wall to remind you.


(We encourage you to record in a notebook your thoughts and feelings during Lent.)
“ Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards, he was famished.” - Matthew 4 [The Bible]

“There is a threshold, it seems, where either the spirit cracks or some steel enters the soul.” - Graeme Barrett

Recall when you experienced a difficult situation that called for your endurance.
Talk to God about the ‘cracks’ in your spirit that this situation may have left you with, asking for God’s healing. And celebrate the inner strength and wisdom that this situation has brought you.


Suggestion: Fill a pot or tray with some sand or dirt.
Take three (or more) large-ish stones.

Paint or write on them: one habit or attitude or behaviour that you’d like to let go of

one relationship that you’d like to put time and energy into strengthening

one new discipline or activity that you’d like to introduce into your life

anything else

Place them in the tray.
From time to time during Lent, pick up a stone and hold it as you pray for God’s guidance and strength in implementing the change.



“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” - John 12 [The Bible]

Suggestion: Spend some time meditating on the image of, or an actual, grain of wheat. Consider a dimension of your own life that, if you let it die, might give rise to new life for yourself or others.


FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT – 21 March (Daylight Savings ends)

“Is not the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”
- Isaiah 58 [The Bible : God speaking]

Suggestion: Consider donating some money or volunteer time to a cause that is working to ‘loose the bonds of injustice’
Reflect on the ways your living might cause bondage for another/others.
How can you change this?



“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose or forfeit themselves?” - Luke 9 [The Bible : Jesus speaking]

“Self denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicideÉ to deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before us and no more the road which is too hard for us.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer [The Cost of Discipleship]

Talk to someone about what this might mean.



“Jesus set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem”
- Luke 9.51 [The Bible]

“There are some things it is better to begin than to refuse,
even though the end be dark.” - JRR Tolkien

‘Jesus, when you rode into Jerusalem
the people waved palms
with shouts of acclamation.
Grant that when the shouting dies
we may still walk beside you
even to a cross.’ - NZ Anglican Prayer Book





Suggestion: After dark, turn out the lights. Light a (short) candle and watch it burn down until it’s gone. As you watch, reflect on the feelings of the disciples after Jesus had been killed and buried.
In the darkness that follows, bring to God your sorrow over times in your life when you have experienced loss, failure, ending, grief or emptiness.
Give them to God.



“But Mary stood outside the tomb weepingÉshe turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognise him. Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” She, thinking he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.” Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!” - John 20 [The Bible]

Imagine that you, like Mary, are, weeping by the tomb of Jesus. What can you see, hear and smell in this garden, outside the tomb?
What are you feeling? Then, in your imagination let the rest of the scene unfold. Let Jesus and yourself say whatever comes to mind as you encounter him on this Easter morning.


Lenten Reflections is produced by Cityside: centre for resourcing Christian spirituality. PO Box 8912 Symonds St, Auckland.