If you are still contemplating ways to enrich your personal Lenten season this year, why not work with the experts? Consider taking one or more thematically related ChurchNext courses at home, working with others or on your own. If fellow parishioners agree to take the courses at home as well, you can respond to one another’s answers to the discussion questions. Or simply take the courses on your own. (If your church has a ChurchNext subscription, just ask the person who administrates ChurchNext courses — your pastor will know who that is, if you don’t — to add the courses and send you the links. It’s easy.)
Here are some suggestions for themed groups of classes that might address issues that are close to your heart this Lent. Make a plan to take course one every week or two at your own pace and your Lent will be that much richer in ideas for living out your Christian ministry.
1. Making Sense of the Cross. David Lose, President of Luther Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and renowned author and speaker, has created a three-part series of courses called Making Sense of the Cross. Part one addresses understanding the cross through personal experience. Part two discusses the cross as revealed in the Bible. Part three addresses major theories that theologians have put forth concerning how we interpret the cross. Try taking these three courses over the next few weeks and think about what the cross means in your life.
2. Doing God’s Work. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says that on the last day, the king will tell those on his right hand, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” In these classes, learn how to reach out to the brothers and sisters of Jesus whom the world treats the most ruthlessly. Besides simply being the way that decent people behave — and what we would hope for ourselves in similar circumstances — caring for oppressed people is an important way that Christians in particular are called to reach out to one another and to Christ. Learn effective ways to reach out into the world with these courses:
Radical Welcoming with Stephanie Spellers
Responding to Refugees with Allison Duvall
Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry
Creating Common Good: Educational Inequality with Nicole Baker Fulgham
Creating Common Good: Economic Inequality with Julio Murray
3. Wrestling with God. The ways of the Lord are mysterious — and sometimes frustrating for the faithful. How do we know what God wants from us? Why does God let evil events come to pass? We can come to feel like Jacob, wrestling with the Lord throughout the night in Genesis 32. Don’t shy away from the hard questions — use Lent to engage them and come out spiritually stronger. Try these courses:
When We Get Angry with God with Laurie Brock
Why Does God Get Angry? with Rolf Jacobson
How to Discern God’s Will with Ruth Haley Barton
4. New Ways to Pray. Lent can be a great time to experiment with different methods of prayer. Try a new way each week. Here are some classes that can help you learn about different approaches to prayer.
Holy Yoga with Allison LaBianca
The Anglican Rosary with Suzanne Edwards-Acton
Praying with Saints with Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck
Praying with Icons with Randall Warren
We hope that these courses help bring each of you a holy and blessed Lent.