Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Musing on Lenten traditions

What do you like to do for Lent? Or, rather, what feels meaningful?

I've never gotten as much "into" Lent as I have Advent. I wonder why that is? Maybe because there is a measure of sorrow mixed in with the ultimate joy?

I stocked up on some new picture books last summer, as well as a devotional resource I'll mention below. As a visual person, it's the decorative elements that appeal to me more than the readings or other observances. But I still haven't really established any traditions. It's hard to find the time to get out all the materials and build a good supply that can be used annually.

It's a little bit confusing this year because the eastern and western Resurrection Sundays are a week apart. I keep forgetting which is which. I guess western is April 1 and eastern is April 8? When we had pancake week here, I was confused over whether Lent had started yet. Of course, I already knew that Valentine's Day coincided with Ash Wednesday, so that helped me figure it out.

Speaking of Valentine's Day, I decided to leave up Valentine's decorations until Easter. It seems like a good theme for the interim period-constantly thinking about love! I saw that there were a few articles about balancing Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday and I wasn't quite sure what the big deal was...not eating chocolate? At any rate, that day of course ended tragically for American high-schoolers. :(

As far as materials, I've found the best range to be from Catholic sources. I have an Advent/Christmas /Epiphany book from this same publisher and was excited to see that they had a Lent/Easter volume. I was hoping that there would be plenty of "general Christian" material in there and not too many practices that are foreign to me. Unfortunately, though, I found that not to be the case. I had to flip past perhaps 2/3 of the book because it was "too Catholic" for me as far as the teaching/doctrine. A few examples: confession (in the Catholic format), saints of the season, shrines, guardian angels, and apocryphal references (who is Veronica???). To be fair, I just flipped through again and there are a lot of things I don't take issue with, such as a lengthy description of a Passover Seder, but I guess I wanted more about Christ himself.

I don't want to say I'm jealous, but I so wish that more Protestant denominations had these sort of handbooks-explaining how and why we keep certain practices. With "freedom" we lose these centralized ideas and common ground for producing these kinds of materials.

From the book above, probably the one idea I grabbed onto was the Jesus Tree. Have you heard of that? I've been doing a Jesse Tree for Christmas for maybe 10 years now, so I was excited to see a version for Lent. The symbols are made up of Messianic prophecies mingled with Jesus' life. I've hardly had time to really go through them, but I like in this book how they present them in the form of a cross. It would look nice on paper but also on felt like our Jesse Tree.

I actually went on Etsy looking for some nice Lenten supplies, figuring it would be worth the investment to buy some beautiful handmade pieces. However, the ones I liked the most were just patterns, and I'm not gifted at sewing.

So, the search continues. There's still a month until Resurrection Sunday, so I could still catch up. But I think with David we'll probably do an Easter mountain again and dye some eggs.

On my wishlist in an Easter prep book would be: Jesus Tree, explorations of Jesus' life, activities for Holy Week, recipes (Hot Cross Buns? Russian "kulich"?), Easter mountain instructions, maybe some other crafts and templates.


  1. Yes; I think it was all about chocolate...well-and other "party type stuff". Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting, so going out to eat or even for coffee was not in the cards.

    Lent is much easier for me. It's longer! That helps, and Lent is not crammed with "getting ready" for Easter, like Advent seems to be in relation to Christmas. For me the cultural expectations of the pre-Christmas season eclipse Advent. Lent has its own"personality" and it is 100% spiritual, so I love it.

    I need to write about our Lent. I made a "prayer corner" (so to speak) and while it is in the middle of the dining room, and not in any way a good place to pray - well, it's a start! It's a focal point.

  2. Do write about your Lent! I have a few ideas for next year but I may get materials in the U.S. this summer. As usually all our "activities" will probably be over Holy Week, although we've been talking casually about Easter all this time. I put up a few flannel-graph pieces the other day to display Christ's ministry. I wanted to make an Easter mountain this week, but don't have enough flour and salt to make the dough.


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