NEIGHBOURHOOD CHURCH: 2011 READING/REFLECTIONS FOR LENT The following is a reading and reflection guide that you may wish to follow throughout the season of Lent. The Scripture readings each week are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary. Each week, there are a few simple questions to think about throughout the week as you spend time in these texts. Some of these questions have been taken from Mennonite Church Canada’s “Called and Shaped by Jesus.” I have also included a brief summary of the purpose of Lent taken from an article by Renee Evashkevich called “On the Lent” in this month’s Mennonite Brethren Herald. The structure and themes of this guide is also borrowed from this article. I wish you a meaningful Lenten season! Purpose of Lent The six weeks leading up to Easter is a time to identify and repent of the things that are hindering our walk with God, and build new habits into our lives. What is your spiritual diet as you prepare for Easter? What old habits do you need to change? Lenten spirituality does not ask you to deny yourself for the sake of outward piety, but to forgo one thing in order to replace it with something better as a part of your own spiritual renewal. We replace old habits with new ones. We sacrifice something in order to give. Giving up coffee for Lent should also mean donating the money we would have spent on coffee to those less fortunate. Giving up TV should also translate into spending time on works of service and helping others. As you prepare for Easter this year, consider being “on the Lent.” Come as a child once again, renew your mind with the truths of Scripture, dig deep into the core of what you believe, and find the call to follow Christ in the everyday. Allow God to build into your life new habits that will transform the way you live the rest of this year and the years to come. –Renee Evashkevich Instructor in Worship Arts Columbia Bible College WEEK 1: TEMPTATION Sin has entered the world and we are all fallen. As Christ was tempted in the wilderness, he overcame and became the new Adam, the one who lived a pure life to give life to all. We can have hope. Texts: Genesis 2:15–17; 3:1–7 Psalm 32 Romans 5:12–19 Matthew 4:1-11 Reflect: 1. How do today’s readings help you with things that test you? 2. What feelings, ideas, or images do you get from today’s Bible text? 3. What signs of God’s forgiving and shaping love did you see at work today? WEEK 2: DENY SIN God calls us to stop pretending we are righteous and come, like Nicodemus, to Christ to be “born again” and live a new life in Christ. Texts: Genesis 12:1-4a Psalm 121 Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 John 3:1-17 or Matthew 17:1-9 Reflect: 1. How did God create new life through the writers or characters in today’s Bible texts? 2. What new life is God giving you to share with others? 3. Why is it sometimes difficult to see the new life God is creating among us? WEEK 3: REPENTANCE Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we are called to confront our sin and repent. This will lead to a transformation of our hearts and lives as we seek to know and follow God. Texts: Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 95 Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42 Reflect: 1. How can worship can refresh people and help them get over their quarrels? 2. Why might Jesus have chosen to offer his living water to Sychar through this Samaritan woman? 3. How does God’s living water refresh and open up your spirit? WEEK 4: HEALING AND CONVERSION We come to Christ as the man born blind, and the healing power of God restores us for his glory. Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Psalm 23 Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41 Reflect: 1. What light do you think God saw in David? 2. How might the blind man felt after Jesus healed his sight? 3. How can we tell if we are living in the light of God’s way? WEEK 5: FORETASTE OF EASTER As Ezekiel saw in the valley of dry bones, we see in Lazarus that Christ has the power to raise the dead. That resurrection power is alive and at work in us as we choose to hear Christ’s voice, repent of our sin, and follow Him. Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14 Psalm 130 Romans 8:6-11 John 11:1-45 Reflect: 1. How might it have felt to see the dead return to life? 2. Are there “dry bones” in your life that need to come to life? Areas where hope can be rekindled? 3. Reflect upon the greatness of our God, who is stronger than even death! WEEK 6: PALM SUNDAY/SUNDAY OF THE PASSION We celebrate Christ as the coming King and hear ourselves in the crowd saying, “Hosanna, Lord save us,” but we also read of Christ’s suffering in Matthew 26–27 and recognize our betrayal put him there. Holy Week begins with the journey to the cross and ends in the joy of Easter morning. Texts: Isaiah 50:4-9a Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 Psalm 31:9-16 Matthew 21:1-11 Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus’ Passion: Matthew 26:14-27:66 Reflect: 1. How do you think Jesus’ friends felt during this week? 2. Reflect upon the ways in which we, like Jesus’ disciples, disown or betray him. 3. How we can best respond to the strong love Jesus demonstrated in his willingness to suffer for us?