Check out our 2018 Lenten Guide for information about embarking on a FastPrayGive journey with us.
Monday, March 26
Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness… It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. — Mohandas K. Gandhi
Fast from your worst habit — excessive worry, overeating, smoking, drinking, etc. For those who have great difficulty with this, fast by at least 50%.
Pray for help in removing whatever is blocking a closer relationship with God.
Give support to someone you know who is struggling with bad habits and/or addiction.
Tuesday, March 27
This year Passover will be celebrated by our Jewish brothers and sisters March 30-April 7. It was during the Passover celebration when Jesus entered Jerusalem and it was during the Passover feast in the upper room that he shared the Last Supper with his disciples.
Passover is the first of three major festivals that have historical and agricultural significance. It is the beginning of the harvest season in Israel although nobody really pays any mind to this. The Hebrew word Pesach means to pass through or exempt. The Passover recalls the biblical story from the book of Exodus. God passed over the houses of the Jews that were marked with the blood of the lamb when he was slaying all the first-born sons in Egypt.
Jews remove all leavened bread from their homes for Passover to symbolize that they were once nomadic and always in a hurry — so much so that they couldn’t let their bread rise.
On the first night of Passover, there is a special family meal called a Seder. Many scholars believe the Christian Last Supper was a Seder meal although this is disputed by others. The word Seder means “order” — there is a specific set of information that must be discussed in a specific order throughout the meal.
Jews retell the story of the Exodus, often in song, and many blessings and symbols of the bitterness of slavery (eating bitter herbs) are sprinkled throughout the meal. Children play a major role in the meal, asking how this night differs from the usual weekly Shabbat meal and finding the hidden matzoh. This serves a practical purpose as well as a religious one — the meal is long and children may fall asleep if they are not engaged.
The closing prayer expressed the hope of celebrating next year’s Passover in Jerusalem (meaning that the Messiah will appear.)
Fast from solitude. Make plans to share a meal today.
Pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters this Passover. We are all spiritual Semites.
Give by reaching out to a family member or friend.
Wednesday, March 28
Hot cross buns are a British Catholic tradition. Despite an attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to squash this papist pastry in the 1500s, it has survived down through the centuries. The ironic thing about its perceived religious connection is that the hot cross bun started as a pagan offering. When the Saxons settled in England in the 6th Century, they brought their Germanic gods with them from Holstein. Eostre was their goddess of light, whose festival occurred at the beginning of Spring. Eostre herself likely derives from the Vedic deity Ushas, the pre-Hindu Indian goddess of dawn, which welcomed the birds and drove off evil spirits. Ushas is further developed in the Vedas as the medium of awakening in people, illuminating the way to Truth.
Ushas, Eos, Eostre is also the root of the word Easter, and one of the ways Saxons honored Eostre was to bake little spiced buns with a cross or X on them representing the four seasons or four phases of the moon. Christians absorbed hot cross buns, along with other aspects of the Spring festival, into Easter, turning the cross on top into a symbol of the crucifixion. The main thing to keep in mind about hot cross buns is that while they are delicious, they aren’t supposed to be overly sweet. Here is a simple recipe for classic hot cross buns. It involves some kneading and it would help to have some experience with baking, to know when the dough is ready, but it’s pretty easy. So, this Good Friday or Easter, consider making hot cross buns, or at least pick some up at a local bakery.
Hot Cross Buns
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm milk (115°)
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 8 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 dash ground allspice
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 teaspoon milk
- In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk.
- Stir in butter, egg, sugar and salt.
- Combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour with the raisins and currants and mix in the cinnamon and allspice.
- Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and combine them well.
- Slowly add additional flour from the remaining 1-1/2 cups until you have a good soft dough.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
- Put ball of dough in a greased bowl and rotate it around so the surface is covered with oil.
- Cover and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it is about doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and make into a dozen balls.
- Place them two inches apart on a greased baking sheet.
- (Optionally, with a sharp knife, cut a very light cross on top of each bun.)
- Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes or so, until doubled again.
- Beat the egg yolk and water and brush over buns.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375° until golden brown.
- While the buns are cooling slightly, combine the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and milk for the icing.
- Put icing in a pastry piping bag and add a cross to the top of each bun. (If they are lined up in a rectangle, you can draw whole rows at a time.)
Fast from idleness. Take a short stretch or a nice walk during the day.
Pray for those who are physically handicapped.
Give back by signing up for a walkathon or a marathon in the future or sponsoring someone who is doing one.
Thursday, March 29- Maundy Thursday
Two things are central to Maundy Thursday. First, we are reminded of the Last Supper and the final period of time that Jesus shared with his disciples.
In three of the four gospels we hear about how Jesus took bread and broke it and blessed a cup of wine saying “this is my body; this is my blood. Do this to remember me.” In the Gospel of John however, the central moment of Jesus’ final evening with his disciples is not the Eucharistic meal (which in fact is not even mentioned) but rather, the washing of the disciples’ feet. This moment often gets re-enacted and reminds us of the second thing that gets emphasized on Holy Thursday: the institution of the priesthood. Jesus commissions His disciples to continue the ritual they share at the Last Supper and he tells the twelve gathered there that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, He is there present among them. Ministers and priests today offer that same ritual, the sacrifice of Christ himself through Holy Communion.
Fast from pride.
Pray for humility and to contemplate Christ’s washing the feet of his disciples.
Give $10 for those less fortunate to your FastPrayGive Bowl.
Friday, March 30- Good Friday
“Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?” The haunting sounds of this old spiritual tell you all you need to know about Good Friday. This is the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Jesus was nailed and hung on a cross and left for dead with common criminals on either side of him.
The day is marked by an interactive reading of the Passion narrative. The congregation usually reads the lines in the story of the shouting mob who called for Jesus to be put to death. This reminds us that we are all complicit in Jesus’ death — it is our sins that have crucified Jesus. God offers himself as a ransom for all.
The cross is also venerated on this day, we do this by carrying the cross through the streets of Creston from the park to the church for our Good Friday worship experience.
Good Friday marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus and is the most solemn day of the year for Christians. Throughout the past 40 days we’ve been encouraging each other to continue practicing the ancient spiritual disciplines of Lent — fasting, prayer and almsgiving — in both big and small ways that challenge us in our daily lives. For this solemn day we ask you to try the biggest spiritual challenge of all, by fasting from all food and all electronic media for the day except for what’s absolutely required. (NOTE: if you have health issues that have nutritional implications or work obligations that can’t be avoided, find a way to fast safely within your limitations! DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER!)
Fast from all food and all electronic media for the day except for what’s absolutely required. (NOTE: if you have health issues that have nutritional implications or work obligations that can’t be avoided, find a way to fast safely within your limitations! DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER!)
Pray and meditate on the Stations of the Cross.
Give all the money you saved from not eating (at least $20) to your FastPrayGive Bowl, and use the time you would have spent on electronic media to do good works, e.g., volunteering.
Saturday, March 31- Holy Saturday
We celebrate the Easter Vigil after sundown on Holy Saturday. Tradition in some churches includes a prayer vigil beginning at sundown until sunrise on Easter morning. The vigil starts with the church in darkness, and then slowly the introduction of light makes its way into the vigil by lighting candles from the great Easter candle (Paschal candle), and as Jesus’ resurrection grows stronger, more light opens into the congregation. The evening is also marked by the Baptism of the elect, those who have been preparing to enter into the church. Those not being baptized are called to renew their own baptismal promises as well.
Fast from impatience.
Pray for the patience to accept Christ’s coming into your life. (If that seems too abstract to you, pray for a greater sense of hope and love in your life.)
Give yourself time to decide where you would like to donate the money in your FastPrayGive Bowl.
Remember to take your FastPrayGive Bowl with you to church tomorrow morning!!
Sunday, April 1- Easter
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.