By Dr. Terri Martinson Elton, Director of the Center for First Third Ministry at Luther Seminary
Today marks the beginning of Lent. Some church bodies embrace the season of Lent, others not so much. For the ones who do Lent is accompanied with particular practices, special worship experiences, and the Christian’s call for faith to intersect with their daily life. Most often practices take the form of “giving up” or fasting from certain things; worship experiences are usually sober and reflective; and faith intersects life by attending Friday Fish Frys with neighbors or explaining our Lenten practices to others.
Our family has embraced all three of these aspects of Lent – practices, unique worship, and faith intersecting life – for many years. Each year as Ash Wednesday approaches our family intentionally reflects on what we did last year and decides what we will do this year. This past Sunday was our time. We gathered, but not in the kitchen. After discovering a Lenten challenge online, I posted the following link on Facebook: http://rethinkchurch.org/article/lenten-photo-day-challenge and within 2 minutes my college daughter liked the post and asked if this photo challenge should be our practice this year. I connected with my high school daughter and husband, and suddenly we were set. All of us photographers, some of us better than others, and all of us trying to figure out how to integrate our Christian faith in the world, this seemed like a no-brainer.
I’m not sure what Lent will bring for us this year, but I’m engaging this challenge as a practice with three things in mind. First, I’m game for trying new things…and this practice is NOTHING like the practices we have done before, which in itself provides energy. And the fact it came from my daughter, gets me excited to try. Second, I appreciate engaging in Lenten practices knowing I’m surrounded by a community. In this case the community will be not only my family, but also hundreds of other Christians. I’m not in this alone, and that’s helpful for me. And finally, I hope Lenten practices give me, and my family, a lens for seeing the world through eyes of faith. Sometimes the lens is Scripture, other times its 12 steps for Christian living, and other times it is by joining with voices of Christians from the past. This year, it will be through the lens of a camera and a new idea each day.
Want to join in? Maybe it’s just you, or maybe it’s with your family. Maybe you invite some youth at church to join the challenge, or maybe you just use these ideas as discussion starters with your elementary or young adult kids. No matter what you choose … today marks the beginning of Lent. As the shared body of Christ, let’s make our way together to the cross and resurrection, and be in conversation along the way.
Follow on Twitter: #rethinkchurch or #40 or see my Facebook for pictures!
Join the conversation on Facebook.com/FirstThird!
Terri Elton is passionate about young people and their families, and loves the church. No really! She’s our Associate Professor and teaches with an eye toward developing leaders and leading change.
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