Lent officially begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 18th this year. This next week take some time, preferably with your household and/or a close friend and think about intentionally observing and participating in Lent this year. Historically, this season before Easter Sunday has been observed in a variety of ways.
Catholics observe Lent by fasting from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays.
Orthodox observe Lent by fasting from all food for three days the first week, and then they abstain from meat, animal products, fish, olive oil and wine until Easter.
Protestants do not necessarily have standardized historic practices for Lent, but many have continued this ancient Christian practice in their own way.
Other faiths also have fasting practices including the notable Muslim fast of Ramadan as well as Hindu and Buddhist practices.
This year for our Mennonite-Anabaptist identity and heritage, we will focus on areas of our life beyond the sustenance of food. Food is an integral part of life, but there are also other parts of our life that give us sustenance while also filling up our soul and life. This year we are encouraging our JYF and all Peace School families to form a practice for each week around food, clothing, possessions, media, money and stress. You can plan out all your practices ahead of time, or simply take it week by week. However, with most goals and new habits (even short term), the odds of actually completing and following through are higher the more you prepare. Here are a few steps to consider:
1.) Read the blog post for each week, and as a family choose one of the options, or better yet, create your own that speaks to your life.
2.) In creating your fast for the week, take some time to explore the subject and learn from each other and from others about their best practices throughout the year. Learn something new about yourself and your family.
3.) After you finish each weekly fast, take time to name how difficult or easy the fast was, and why (not). Furthermore, take a few minutes to ask yourselves if you'd like to consider making any changes in this area for another month, or during the rest of the year.
4.) Finally, name if you felt closer to God and the ways of Jesus this week. If you did feel closer to God, are you able to name why?
5.) Use the "comments" feature under each weekly Blog to share a few sentences about your family's experience.