The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The practices for Lent

Six ways individuals, groups and congregations can mark the paschal mystery

The Paschal mystery

Lent walks us into the paschal mystery of Christ, his movement through death to resurrected life. This isn't something that happens just to Jesus, but is the central truth and dynamic of life in Christ.

In utter love and incomprehensibility, God brings new life out of the wounds that kill body and soul. Our lives move through a downward ascent in which we die and are raised to new life, again and again.

We practice the paschal mystery by:

• Naming our deaths. What deaths and losses have you experienced in the last year — the loss of youth, health, relationships, security, wholeness, job, dreams, loved ones? Or perhaps the loss of the kind of faith and ideas about God you once held?

• Refusing to cling. Release to God what has been lost. Give thanks for how it blessed you. What are you holding on to that you need to let go? What makes it hard to release it?

• Grieving what has been lost. Allow yourself the sadness, remorse, guilt, anger and all the feelings that are part of grief. Offer them all to God in prayer.

• Claiming your births. What signs of new birth or new beginnings appear as you experienced deaths and losses and began to let go? Claim the spirit of the new life, the new reality that is appearing.

• Praying. Regularly pray for God to bring new life through the death of what is lost: "Loving God, in your mercy carry me forward when I lack the strength and courage to go on. When I am losing hold of myself and all I treasure, help me trust that all the deaths I die will bear me deeper into your life."

designpicsPerichoretic relationships

Human beings are made to cultivate and sustain relationships that reflect the divine image, the dance of love that exists at the heart of the Trinity ("Falling into the river"). Ancient church fathers called this perichoresis, the infinite, illimitable, liquid flow of love among the persons of the Trinity, from the Father to the Son, breathing into us through the Spirit.

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