If you give up/take on something for Lent, may you treat it less like a 40-day New Year’s resolution, a goal to be accomplished. Instead may it be seen as a tangible "turning to God" -- that is, to your community (local church, businesses, organizations, neighbors, friends), to yourself (caring for your body, which Scripture calls a "temple of the Holy Spirit"), or to the earth. “Remember that you are earth and to earth you shall return.”
for those feeling stressed out
Pray about and intentionally cut out at least 2 things in your weekly schedule.
Turn radio off in the car and drive in silence.
Park farther away from shops, etc. And walk more in general.
Leave earlier and sit quietly while you wait.
Practice breathing deeply and slowly, especially when you're tensing up or feeling angry.
Eat healthy food.
Say "no" to more invitations, requests, and other time-consumers...as a Lenten discipline.
Get a massage...as a Lenten discipline, and don't feel guilty.
Simplify even your free time (less TV, more reading; less computer, more walks; less chatter, more silence).
Get in the garden.
for those feeling spiritually dry
Get wet -- go swimming or take long baths...as a Lenten discipline. Remember your Baptism all the time--whenever you touch, taste, see, hear water.
Do a Lenten daily devotion (we offer one in the narthex)
Read the Bible regularly (lectionary texts available). bookoffaith.org or get a copy of The Message for new perspectives.
Spend time with a child.
Go hiking, for an hour or a week.
Say a word of thanks to God before AND after each meal.
Go to the desert.
Take Sabbath moments--a minute here and there throughout the day to simply pause and ponder the beauty of creation and the gift of God's mercy, all freely given and shed for you.
Memorize a hymn and sing it to yourself or your children/grandchildren.
Come to Lenten vespers--dinner at 6, service at 7pm.
Let your very breathing be worship: "inhale grace; exhale peace". Think of this as often as possible.
Get into the garden
Pray about and perhaps start tithing (giving 10% of your "first fruits" not as a donation but as an offering) – probably the most poignant symbol that “you are not in control.”
Pick a group that is strange/foreign/maybe even seems hostile to you, and get to know one person from that group.
Practice random acts of kindness.
Volunteer/give to an organization that is committed to caring for the poor, the earth, animals, or the hungry.
for those feeling isolated or lonely
Invite a friend (or a potential friend) to dine with you.
Get in the garden.
Volunteer with TACO, Common Ground, Interfaith Shelter, Agape House.
Hand write a letter or a note to someone you appreciate.
Invite someone to church and lunch after.
Visit someone who is homebound, in the hospital or in prison.
Offer your time talents treasures at your church.
Get local--introduce yourself to a local shop keeper/employee at a business you frequent.
Go to your local library.
Respond to the tragedies in the news with cards and letters to families.
The only time I could be brutally honest was with a few close friends and colleagues, who were geographically far away. And I would get to see them twice a year a retreat called First Call Theological Education. As new pastors in the ELCA, we are required to go to these gatherings twice a year for our first three years of ministry…just a place to fellowship, to learn, and perhaps (more often than not) to commiserate with other new pastors over the unexpected challenges and woes of ministry.
Sisters and brothers in Christ – I stand here as one of you with the gift and the burden of announcing to you that your pain – this day – your sorrow, your numbness, your distraction, your separation from that which is whole and healthy, your illness, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – your pain, our pain makes Christ sssick. And so he chooses to heal. He chooses to reach out and touch us. He chooses to love. He chooses to be ever presence. He chooses community. He chooses you.