JEFFREY SWAINSTON, CHAPLAIN
P.O. Box 77
Manton, MI 49663​
(616) 405-6921
revjeff82@gmail.com

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MARCH/APRIL  2018 GRANGE NEWS

THE SEASON OF LENT
Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, is the 40-day season directly preceding Easter. Many pastors will invite their congregations to observe a holy Lent by self–examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting, and self–denial, and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word. While you may be aware of this season leading up to Easter, you may wonder how you might observe a holy Lent.

One of the more common practices is to give something up for Lent. Some abstain from chocolate, social media, shopping, or something else through the season. This is a religious practice known as fasting. We fast to reorient ourselves away from the distraction of those things, and back toward God.

Another way to reorient your life, is to focus on devotional practices like Bible study and prayer during the season. Spending extra time in Bible reading and prayer is a great way to observe Lent.

In the busyness of our everyday lives, prayer can sometimes get squeezed out. Lent is a wonderful time to intentionally work toward finding more time in your life for prayer. Enriching your prayer life is a great way to spend Lent.

Another way to observe a holy Lent is to take on a new way of serving. Throughout the forty days of the season you can adopt a new habit of volunteering in the community, making special financial gifts to service organizations, singing in the choir, or participating in a small group.

An important practice with which many of us struggle is the spiritual discipline of rest or Sabbath. We don’t have to rest on Saturday, the traditional Sabbath day, or even Sunday. You can instead find moments during an ordinary day to be still in God's presence. You might choose to spend a few minutes during lunch with a desktop meditation, listen to sermons on your commute, or read a poem that feeds your spirit. Each can be a great way of enriching your Lent.

You also may want to find ways to share the meaning of the season with the children in your life. While their focus may be on Easter baskets and new clothes, you can enter into special times to help them find deeper meaning to the season.

Some families set aside money each day during Lent through creative ways to collect coins each day or by making small "sacrifices" as a family, like skipping a weekly movie or meal out, and collecting the money saved each week. On Easter Sunday, or soon after, donate the money to help people in your local community or across the globe.

Also, consider trying some traditions from other cultures to enhance your Easter celebration. Make instruments during Lent that you can use to celebrate in song on Easter Sunday, similar to Christians in Zimbabwe. Or try some special Easter foods, like the Easter breakfast cakes of Poland.

You may also use Lent as a time to learn about the seasons of Lent and Easter, and some of the practices of the Christian church. Common symbols like the cross carry a great deal of meaning. A less traditional symbol like an Easter Totem Pole from Alaska may also be fun to know more about.

This 40-day journey called Lent is a wonderful opportunity to grow in 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.

​**This contains some information from a blog by Joe Iovino**

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 GRANGE NEWS

Constantly in Prayer

1 Thessalonians 1:1–10

Desperate circumstances often dictate our prayers. We pray for others when they’re in need,
or we thank God for others when they fill our needs. But how often do we thank God for the
faith of those around us?

When Paul writes to the believers in Thessalonica, he opens by saying, “We give thanks to
God always concerning all of you, making mention constantly in our prayers” (1 Thess 1:2). Paul
and his disciples thank God for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope
in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father” (1 Thess 1:3).

Those who appear to be moving along well by our standards may be struggling in their faith.
Other believers, just like us, go through ebbs and flows in their journey. It shouldn’t take a
catastrophe for us to recognize their need for prayer.

We can learn something from Paul, a church planter and disciple maker who was no doubt
keenly aware of the growth and struggles of the believers he mentored. For those of us who
are less observant, these struggles may simmer underneath our radar. We should stop and
take notice of the faith journeys of the people around us—people in our churches, our schools,
and our workplaces. For whom can we thank God today? Who needs our observant prayers
today?

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