Five things Friday roundup: making space during Lent

— Aaron Burden on Unsplash
I have the honor of teaching the 1st/2nd grade Sunday school class at my church and when Lent started this year, I quickly determined that most of these sweet Littles were learning about Lent for the first time. Though traditionally not observed by Mennonites, I considered how and what Lent might mean to these children. In order to effectively invite them into the season, I needed to clarify what simple, authentic terms could convey what Lent means. May you find meaningful ways to observe the end of the Lenten season.
1. Moving Toward the Cross
On Ash Wednesday at the conclusion to our service, we were all invited to trace and cut out our footprints. I had the privilege with two others of sorting, placing, and taping these footprints to the floor in our sanctuary, creating a path toward the cross. Each week as we see those footprints, we are reminded of the invitation to take one step nearer the cross this Lenten season. That may mean taking more time with God, meditating on the stories of Holy Week and Easter, examining how we are following Christ and making a change to live more faithfully or many other things. But as I look down on the footprints from the balcony, I am struck anew at the beautiful diversity of footprints below —large and small and everything in between. Let us not forget to encourage those on the journey with us  — we don’t walk this path alone.   
2. Making Space
I shared a picture book with my Sunday school kids called Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter. This book invites children to mark the season of Lent by creating space in our lives and hearts by practical actions of love, kindness, and justice. Kids are encouraged to declutter their homes and hearts to make room as they encounter The Story and to view this season and the ways they observe it as part of a life of discipleship. The book certainly made me stop and think about how and where I need to declutter in order to make room in my life for what is really important.
3. Devotional Time
One of those ways of making room is a more intentional time of devotional readings. Since our daughter was very young, we’ve had a good rhythm of devotional reading as a family, but I decided it would be good for the adults as well to have something geared toward us. As a family, we have found the Rejoice! devotional from MennoMedia an excellent fit, challenging us to be more faithful in our Anabaptist walk with God and guiding us to read more scripture.  
4. Mourning
Another devotional I’ve found meaningful in recent years is Seeing Beautiful Again: 50 Devotions to Find Redemption in Every Part of Your Story by Lysa TerKeurst. We all have experienced brokenness and seasons of mourning in our lives. The season of Lent reminds us of our frailty and humanness, and many of us struggle to find hope in late Winter, waiting for the promise of spring, the promise of the resurrection, the promise of new life. It is so hard to see the beauty in the midst of these difficult seasons. May we do the hard work of mourning what is broken, what is lost, what is not as it should be, with the promise of the resurrection: When the time is right God does turn our mourning into dancing.
5. Living Like Jesus
As we approach Holy Week, I’m challenged to consider what faithfully following Jesus really means. How am I living faithfully in ways that put me at odds with the oppressive systems of today? Last week the Anabaptist World staff participated in an anti-racist training with Roots of Justice trainers. I was personally challenged to work at continuing to understand the history of racism in the United States (since that’s where I live) and what it means to work as a household (where my primary focus is during this season) at actively challenging and dismantling oppressive systems as well as attitudes and understandings within each of us.  We are currently reading Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul and illustrated by Rachelle Baker. I also recommend the Teen edition, the original Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in Americaas well as the other excellent works by Ibram X. Kendi that will challenge you to examine and understand these issues in new ways. Working toward radical justice for all is only one of many important ways to live more like Jesus.

Jennie Wintermote

Jennie Wintermote splits her day-time hours between the Western District Conference Resource Library in North Newton, Kansas and Anabaptist World. Read More

Anabaptist World

Anabaptist World Inc. (AW) is an independent journalistic ministry serving the global Anabaptist movement. We seek to inform, inspire and Read More

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