First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 (Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7), Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights…”
On Ash Wednesday, we hear Jesus speak of the disciplines of Lenten faith: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. In
the reading from Matthew, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert and into a time of fasting. Jesus does not
give up something for these forty days, as we frequently do during this season. What is to be gained from
giving up something for forty days? Is it soda or television, sweets or cigarettes, meat or shopping for nonessentials?
The practice of giving up something that has some measure of control over us leads to a temporary
mastery over an object or habit. It can also be an offering to God for God’s gifts to us. Jesus, led into the
desert, encounters solitude and fasting, prayer and silence. He experiences a deep communion with the Father.
This is not a mere mastery of a habit or a break from temptations. This is a life-altering event. Jesus is given
the strength to counter the devil and to hold fast to the kingdom of God. Jesus sends the devil away, empty
What if you spent forty days in deeper communion with God?
What would you really have to leave behind in order to enter a desert-like experience?
In your parish/congregation, what are some ways this season of Lent is observed as a desert-dwelling time?
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 12:1-4a, Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 (2 Timothy 1:8b-10), Matthew 17:1-9
“But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’”
Once again, we see Jesus retreating from the crowds and distractions of the world. In this passage, Jesus and a
few of the disciples go up a mountain to encounter God in the event of Transfiguration. So great this
encounter, Jesus’ face shone like the sun and his clothes became white. Jesus, once again, is spending time in
deep communion with his Father. For us, deep communion with God is prayer. The second of three Lenten
disciplines, prayer is time when we respond to Jesus words, “Do not be afraid.” Peter wanted to build tents for
Jesus and the prophets, to remain in God’s holy presence. While we can’t always seek out mountains or deserts,
we can come before God in times of prayer wherever we are.
What are your deepest longings that you need to bring before the Father in prayer?
When is it easiest for you to pray? When is it most difficult?
What keeps you from prayer?
In your parish/congregation, what forms of prayer are most meaningful for the community?
Almsgiving (Acts of Mercy)
Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 17:1-7 (Exodus 17:3-7), Romans 5:1-11 (Romans 5:1-2, 5-8), John 4:5-42
“Sir, give me this water,that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
A request for water and the Samaritan woman’s act of mercy develops into an encounter with Jesus as living water and into a proclamation of the Good News. The third discipline of faith, almsgiving is not limited to throwing coins into a homeless person’s hat. Almsgiving is the spiritual practice of giving ourselves in acts of mercy. Jesus asks an outcast woman for a drink of water. Her act of kindness opens her to the possibility of receiving what she needs. This woman needs a life-change found in the mercy of Jesus. This is a holy encounter at its very best. Mercy begets mercy. Like Jesus in the desert or in the mountains, this woman is in a wilderness of her very own. Following her encounter with Jesus, her sins are made whiter than snow. Then she joyfully shares this experience with others.
When have you encountered mercy? What difference did it make in your life?
What acts of mercy does your parish or congregation practice?
Seeing God’s Kingdom with New Eyes
Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 Samuel 16:1-13 (1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a), Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41
“The man born blind said, ‘I do believe Lord,’ and he worshiped Jesus.
In John’s account, the man born blind doesn’t ask Jesus to heal him. Yet following this moment with Jesus, the man can see, both physically and spiritually. He proclaims to the world, “I do believe.” We’re well into the forty days of Lent by now. Close to the emergence from the desert or the decline from the mountain, we meet up with this man born blind. Our Lenten disciplines (fasting, prayer, almsgiving/acts of mercy) not only allow us to encounter God but also allow God to make his work visible through us. It is the same with the man born blind. He is given new sight for the kingdom and for God. God uses him as an instrument to share his gift of sight with the world.
In the midst of fasting, praying, and acting with mercy, do you encounter God and become a vehicle
for his works?
Like the man born blind, how have you been gifted by God even when you have not asked?
How can God use your parish or congregation?
When has your parish or congregation seen a situation with new eyes?
When has God used your parish or congregation for his good works?
With the texts of Ash Wednesday and the disciplines of Lent in mind,
We hope this resource will be helpful in your Lenten journey.
Whether you use this for personal devotion or in a combined group from a neighboring Lutheran congregation and Catholic parish,
We wish you a blessed and prayerful Lent.