This year Ash Wednesday is on February 17 and will usher us into the season of Lent as we begin the journey to the cross and then the celebration of the risen Christ. Lent is a season that calls Christians into simplicity, repentance, and reflection to grow closer to God. It is not a season to rush through to the excitement of Easter. Rather, Lent is a season to slow down and reflect as we strip away what might hinder us in our faith or pick up a practice that draws us nearer to God.
Just a few short weeks after we entered the Lenten season last year, we found ourselves in the “wilderness” of the pandemic. A year later we are still navigating the pandemic as our churches continue to offer hope and light in the shade and darkness for many this season. A question we can all ask ourselves is: how will I use this time to grow closer to God?
As we look towards the Lenten season, I hope you will find the following resources helpful both for you individually as well as for use in your area of ministry. I would also love to hear the creative ways you and your church are engaging in ministry during this season to share and inspire others. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year Ash Wednesday services took place before the pandemic hit. So, yet again, churches find themselves navigating something new. With the surge in Covid-cases, our traditional Ash Wednesday service calls for discernment and creativity based on our ministry context and what is happening specifically in each of our communities.
Here are some things to consider:
- If in-person is feasible, the pastor could address all those present at one time, saying the liturgy once and applying it to all: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The pastor would then sanitize their hands or use gloves, put on a face mask, and prepare to distribute the ashes. The pastor would take the ashes imposing them on the head of each one without saying anything. (Guidance adapted from Vatican 2021)
- For in-person gatherings, masks should be made available/expected for all participants.
- Ashes could be applied to the backs of people’s hands instead of to their foreheads as a way of lessening contact with individuals and avoiding contact with people’s faces.
- Ashes could be provided individually for people to impose on themselves during the liturgy in person or at home.
- A drive-through Ash Wednesday experience could be a good option for churches.
- Other ideas are shared below to make this time meaningful for safe in-person gatherings, for virtual services, or for at home activities.
Lent Educational/Spiritual Formation Resources
Lent is a wonderful opportunity to focus on your faith. Find your path of self-reflection and spiritual discovery, and invite others to join you as you seek to observe a holy Lent.
Lent 101: Discover more about the Lenten season.
The United Methodist Lent Quiz: Test your knowledge and share with others.
Why Ashes? We see them on Ash Wednesday, but how much do you know about this ancient symbol and its underlying message?
Lent Studies: Find the perfect study for you and/or your group from Cokesbury this Lenten Season.
The Upper Room: Join the virtual Lenten retreat hosted by The Upper Room.
Lenten Micropractices: A micropractice is a small spiritual practice. Instead of engaging the same spiritual practice throughout Lent, these micropractices are meant to give a sample across many different styles of practices. Some are active; some are reflective. They will make you think, take action, connect with God and others, and live into your Christian life.
Children, Youth & Family Resources for Lent
Holy Week House Party: Adaptable Activities for this special season
Letter from Jerusalem: Family Lent Activity Kits
16 Simple Activities for All Christian Kids
Coins For Lent Family Activity and Calendar
Simple Lent Activities for All Christian Families
Pretzels are a great teachable moment for Lent as they look like two arms folded in prayer. Try this pretzel recipe with your children.
15 Virtual Easter Party Ideas, Games & Activities for 2021
Group Publishing DIY Easter Events
Lent Is Not About Us: A guide from Seedbed for youth workers to share the journey of Lent.
Lent Ideas For Your Youth Ministry: Fuller Youth Institute offers resources to invite your youth into the space of “noticing.”
Resource UMC: Find devotionals, activities for families, inspiring stories and information about our faith for the observance of the Lenten seasons.
Shrove Tuesday Party Packs: Help families celebrate our favorite Pancake Day of the year!
Lent In A Box Resource
Ash Wednesday Home Fire Ashes: Building Faith provides creative ways for families at home to focus on the season of repentance and reflection.
40 Days - 40 Items: Lent Challenge
Reach Your Community With Creative Ideas for Lent
Engaging Your Community Through Lent
Worship & Witness
An Example of an Ash Wednesday Service at Home (Marcia McFee)
The Great Thanksgiving for Early in Lent: The Lord be with you...and also with you!
Burying The Alleluia for Lent: In many liturgical traditions the word ‘alleluia’ is purposefully left out of all liturgies and songs used during the season of Lent as a way to honor the solemness of the season. Only then to ring out the Good News on Easter proclaiming, “Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!” To recognize this tradition many churches have the practice of symbolically burying the alleluia at the start of Lent.
Online Engagement Ideas for Lent: Here are some creative ways churches can engage members and potential visitors during Lent.
Ignite Media: Church Videos & Graphics: With over 250,000 video and graphic assets from over a dozen different creators, it's easy to see why thousands of churches count on Igniter to keep things fresh.
Worship House Media: Trending videos, countdowns and graphics for the Lenten Season.
Faith Sharing - Easy as 1-2-3: we all have a testimony to share our hope in Christ, and it might be as easy as "1-2-3".
Chuck Knows Church: With easier access to online services and people watching that may not be as familiar with the Christian calendar, seasons and focus, Chuck helps explain in these short videos!
Roll Down Justice: General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) presents the Lenten resource, Roll Down, Justice!, a six-part series based on the collection of social justice hymns published by Mark Miller of Drew University School of Theology. The series also includes a study guide written by Dr. Faye Wilson.
Creation Justice Tips and Images for Lent: This Lenten focus builds awareness during this season for environmental stewardship and ways we can care for our shared planet.
- What are you prepared to give to have a closer walk with God?
- What can you give in order to embrace the work of justice?