Have you figured out your Lenten practices yet?
Lent is coming soon! This week in fact.
Wasn’t Jesus just in diapers? Now we are sending him out alone? Into the wilderness to face wild beasts?
Well actually. Jesus isn’t the only one heading out into the wilderness. We are all being called into a season of wilderness living.
What’s that you say? Are we not already in the wilderness? Have we not been wandering in misery, isolation, and danger for nearly two years?
Yes. Yes, we have. And now add to the list of dangers, toils and snares, a war (and not just rumors of it).
And the dismissal and disrespect and harm of children who only want to live fully into their identities. Jesus said let the little ones come to me and do not hinder them. Yet many religious people are saying children and their families do not know what is best for them. The state is claiming its power to intervene (with no compelling cause) in the moral and ethical lives of its citizens in Texas. The Texas governor and attorney general want to turn care for trans children and teens into “abuse.” Other states are not far behind.
How do we embody the love of Jesus for all children (thank you pastor Ashley Robinson)? How do we resist the injustice of war, including the home front wars on Black and Brown bodies?
We have a lot to pray for this Lenten season. How will we?
It will take imagination and more
This week I invited author, pastor, and mama of three littles, Rev. Traci Smith to talk with us about Lenten practices for families and children. We are also launching “picturing pastoral imagination” on Ash Wednesday. Let me tell you about both my conversation with Traci and our invitation to you. In fact we have four offerings as you are choosing your Lenten practices this season.
If you have children, minister with children, or are part of a community of faith that includes children, Traci Smith is a name you need to know. What started out as a way to teach and nurture her own children’s faith in honest, messy and every day ways, turned into a series of books. Wow. The Faithful Families books help parents and ministry leaders give words and spiritual practices to support following Jesus. The books are unapologetically progressive in their approach and theology. I think you will really appreciate them.
To care for children and raise them to be followers of Jesus and compassionate humans in a wilderness world, we need pastoral imagination that draws on everything we know.
Watch or listen to my conversation with Traci here. She offers a treasure trove of ideas, creative thinking about how to handle theology, practice, and learning for children.
Speaking of treasure, you can sign up for Traci Smith’s Treasure Box Tuesday here. I think you’ll really love it.
Lenten practices for grown ups
What spiritual practice(s) do you need to get you through this wilderness season of Lent? We know you will find the way right for you, and we want to offer four ways we can support your choice(s).
1) First of all let’s be clear that parenting IS a spiritual practice.
And maybe that is the most important or primary spiritual practice you need to attend to this Lenten season? I hope you will buy Traci’s newest Faithful Families for Lent, Easter & Resurrection. It will support you in your practice of teaching and nourishing the littles in your life.
And exciting news, Traci is donating a copy of the book that we are giving away! Sign up for our weekly email by Ash Wednesday, and you will be in the drawing.
2) Secondly, ministry IS also a spiritual practice.
And this Lenten season we invite you to think about honoring the spiritual practice of ministry that you do every day. We have a Photo-A-Day Challenge for Lent that we are calling “Picturing Pastoral Imagination.” We want to invite you to skip adding something else to your to do list. And embrace the everyday messy reality the ministry is. As you’re going about your work, simply lift your camera (phone) and snap a pic. Show us what ministry looks like to you. From your perspective. With your point of view. Tag Three Minute Ministry Mentor when you share. And use the hashtag #pastoralimagination. Read more about the Lenten Photo-A-Day here.
3) Thirdly, maybe what you need for this Lenten season is to give yourself permission to do something simple?
Like take a nap, or go outside (one of Traci’s favorites), or read a book (see our recommendations last week). If you need something simple, we support that 100%. And if you need a card to remind yourself… Or maybe you want to write notes of encouragement to your friends to help make a community of permission? Then we want to help you to do the small things this Lenten season, so you have the energy and strength to do the big things you are called to do in the wilderness.
4) Maybe writing is calling to you this Lenten season?
Did you catch what Traci Smith said about writing through the pandemic? She often joined me at the Writing Table last year. And that’s how she finished Faithful Families for Lent, Easter & Resurrection. Maybe writing is the Lenten practice you need? If you are hoping for a way to deepen your spiritual writing, please join me or update your email preferences to get the weekly Writing Table invitation. You can join us up to four mornings a week for a good hour of writing with other pastors, professors, authors, dissertation writers, parents, and poets.
Whatever you are feeling drawn to in this coming season of Lent, we will be here to offer support for your growing pastoral imagination. More profoundly by far, we trust that God in their loving presence will guide you as they guided Jesus. Like a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day for the Israelites. Like a loving parent calling you to the fullness of who you are, God is drawing near.