Ten Ways to Observe Lent
1. Hear the Word of God and Receive the Sacrament. This is the heart and soul of Lent, because it is the forgiveness which Jesus accomplished at the cross delivered to you.
2. Fast. Yes, Christians fast. Jesus, when speaking of fasting says “When you fast…” not “If you fast.” For those who are healthy (usually the young, elderly, infirm, pregnant or nursing are excluded from fasting), fasting can be a good outward training and bodily preparation for receiving the Lord’s gifts. Fasting may mean abstaining from a certain food. It may mean eating smaller or simpler meals. It may mean skipping a meal or meals. In each case you are telling your body, “you are not the boss of me.” But remember, this is something done in freedom and not for a show.
3. Read a daily devotion. I hope this is already your practice, but if you are like me, devotion time can be one of those things you let slip. Lent’s a great time to get back into the habit. There are many resources: Portals of Prayer, Treasury of Daily Prayer (a book sold by CPH), the “Pray Now” app for your phone, or the Higher Things Reflections which you may find printed in the back of church or at https://media.higherthings.org/reflections/
4. A Financial Fast. We spend a lot of our money on items of luxury, whether it is that coffee at the coffee shop or a candy bar we pick up at the checkout of the grocery store. Consider giving up those little splurges. This can go hand in hand with:
5. Giving to those in need. Take that money you have saved from eating less or not buying those splurge items and give to the hungry and needy. There are plenty of opportunities to give both locally as well as worldwide.
6. Go to private confession. Lutherans practice private confession with a pastor (see the Small Catechism). In fact, that’s one of the reasons you called a pastor. Lent is a time for us to reflect and repent. Private confession and absolution give the very remedy for our bad conscience and deliver a good and clean conscience.
7. Fast from screens. We spend an inordinate amount of time in front of computers (which I do even as I type this), smart phones, and TVs. They stifle communication, especially at the home. Some choose to turn off all screens in the home, others to put a limit on them (ie. a certain number of hours or only on certain days). This may give you a chance to:
8. Spend more time with your “family.” Both your actual family (husband, wife, children, parents, etc) as well as your family in Christ are important. Those hours you save from watching TV can be spent together in family prayer and devotion as well as just simply having fun as a family (playing a board game, having a conversation, playing with the kids and their toys).
9. Volunteer. It is easy to give a donation, and donations are desperately needed by organizations who help our neighbors in need, but also desperately needed are volunteers to help.
10. Share the Gospel of Jesus. Lent is all about Jesus. All our ways to observe Lent should lead us to Jesus and be an outpouring of response to the love that we have in Christ. What better way to tell someone that you love them than to share with them the Good News that in Christ, they are forgiven. That Jesus has taken away our sin. That our relationship with God has been restored, and that because of that, our relationship with each other has been reconciled.