Many years ago I was inspired to create an interactive Lenten bulletin board based on the popular children’s board game, Candy Land. Using colored construction paper squares, I fashioned a winding path to represent the 40 days’ journey from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday. Instead of Lollipop Mountain and King Candy’s Castle, I created stops along the way that reflected the Gospel readings for the six Sundays of Lent and ended at Calvary. Visual clues were given to hint at the weekly stops, and a Scripture verse citation was added each week. Students were encouraged to look up the passages, write them out, and memorize them. Incentives were offered, and many participated.
Over the years, I have become particularly inspired by the Scriptures of Lent. For me, they speak of our humanity and of God’s great love for us, no matter what. And no matter what spiritual state I may be in when Ash Wednesday arrives, the 40 days that follow are usually good for some serious reflection on the Word of God and my desire to respond.
We begin on Ash Wednesday with the prophet’s urgent plea to make this time a holy time. I can feel his almost celebratory proclamation: blow the trumpet, gather the people, and return to the Lord for He is gracious and merciful. Matthew invites us to enter into the season with heartfelt and genuine prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Take it seriously, he says. Make it count.
Throughout the Sundays of Lent (and weekdays, too), we hear reminders of what it means to be people of faith. We will be tempted; we might not resist successfully. Love your enemies, even when you don’t feel like it. Worship honestly, not just with lip service. Make an effort to know, love, and serve Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And even if you have done everything you feel you have been asked to do, you may still be persecuted and rejected. That’s okay. Jesus’ story didn’t end on Good Friday, and neither does ours.
For me, this is Lent. Through all of the symbols and rituals, Stations of the Cross and meatless Fridays, ashes, palms, and purple vestments, the heart of it lies in the Scriptures. The Word of God provides the path for me to follow, a journey that leads me to the Cross—and beyond.
In what ways are you inspired by the Scriptures of Lent?
This article is by Kathy Olenik Henry. Now an Educational Consultant at Loyola Press, Kathy has been involved in the faith formation of children and adults for 20 years. She holds a Masters in Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans, and has served as a catechist, DRE, youth minister, and retreat director. She lives in Ohio with her husband and five sons.