The Lenten season is upon us. And, as Sian Eastwood points out in her recent blog, Lent should be about so much more than giving up chocolate. This is a time of spiritual renewal, an opportunity to draw closer to God and find patterns of worship, prayer and devotion that prepare us for Easter.
There are so many ways we can choose to reflect, pray and act in the coming 40 days. We could explore the role of other faiths in helping to enrich our own; we could choose a passage from Scripture and meditate on different sections of it each week; or we could follow a calendar of good deeds to cultivate our generosity and compassion to those around us.
Whatever it is you choose to do to mark Lent this year, we’ve compiled some of the best online resources to help you or your student group grow in faith in the days ahead.
Lent Video Courses – Stephen Cottrell and Tom Wright (SPCK)
Produced by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), these two video series explores two different themes for Lent. Stephen Cottrell reflects on Holy Week and the things Jesus did in the week leading up to his crucifixion. Tom Wright’s series reflects on the story of Jesus as told through the book of Matthew, exploring some of the new ideas and surprises that God may be speaking to us today. Each series has a weekly reflection, with an introduction and conclusion. The clips are between 2-3 minutes in length.
Returning Home: Christian Faith in Encounter with Other Faiths (CTBI)
This 2017 Lent course explores how the Christian faith has been deepened and enriched by encounters with people of different religions. Emphasis is placed not so much on the shared ground between different faiths, but on how the experience of God for Christians has been transformed by an encounter with the religious other.
The course can be available to download, as a weekly series of reflections. The reflections contain a story or aspect from another religion, Biblical passages to read, questions for discussion and prayers.
Take the 40acts Challenge (Stewardship)
Every day throughout Lent (excluding Sundays), find a new challenge to be generous to those around you. This daily email contains a challenge and reflection, enabling you to live out your faith through Lent and be inspired to give back. Resources are available for individuals, small groups, churches, youth groups and schools.
The challenge launches on 1 March 2017 – sign up to receive them here.
Food for Thought: Lent 2017 Course (Church Urban Fund)
Reflections that are intended to be equally helpful for individuals working alone, or groups working together. The weekly reflections take the Common Lectionary Sunday Readings as a jumping off point, and then moves to another piece of scripture. The focus is on exploring our relationship to food:
"Lent is a chance to interrogate our relationship with food - perhaps the most basic relationship we have with the world around us. In many ways "food is the new rock and roll" - it defines the culture - but despite shows like "The Great British Bake-off", these days we do less and less actual cooking ourselves, and more and more consume what others, or machines, have created for us. Today food is politics, food is class, food is religion, food is society - but that was equally true in Jesus' day."
Sign up to receive the free course here.
Count Your Blessings Calendar (Christian Aid)
Join thousands of people across the world this year to count your blessings during Lent. Based on the beautiful hymn ‘When I needed a neighbour, were you there?’, this downloadable Lent calendar Count Your Blessings guides you through to Easter with daily ways to give thanks for life’s blessings.
You’ll find inspiring opportunities to give, act and pray for your global neighbours – download the calendar here. A children’s version of the calendar is also available to download.
#Do1NiceThingChallenge (Love Your Streets)
A series of daily challenges to get you engaged beyond your own walls and reach out to those around you. You can download a PDF version of the calendar, or view the challenges online.
Lent 2017: All Together for Justice (All We Can)
All Together for Justice is a 6 week (40 day) resource of reflections, activities and prayers sent direct to your email inbox, focusing on the theme of justice and global change.
You can follow it daily as an individual or use it weekly as a small group. There are also other materials (including films, prayers and a talk) available to be used in a church service to help the whole congregation engage and be inspired. Sign up here for the emails.