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Lenten and Easter Resources

February 17, 2021

The Christian Reformed Church in North America congregations will be coming up with many creative ways to mark the Lenten season, which begins today.

After some song and prayer this evening, members of South Grandville CRC in West Michigan, for example, will walk forward, take up a small communion cup of ashes, and then mark the ashes in the sign of the cross on a large canvas sitting on an easel at the front of the sanctuary.

“The crosses on the canvas will be a visual reminder of Jesus and the different ways we need his healing, his Word,” said A.J. Gretz, one of the congregation’s pastors. “We’re reminded that we’re all together in the same boat; we’re all made of dust.”

Lent, he added, is a season of tearing down and building up; it is a time of uprooting and planting. It is a process, as we approach Easter, of rebuilding a new personality in Christ.

Last year, South Grandville CRC distributed ashes after a Wednesday-night meal to anyone who wanted them. This year, they decided to offer the more formal service, said Diane Reed, worship coordinator for the church.

“We will sing such songs as ‘Beneath the Cross,’ and anyone who feels led can go up and get ashes and put them on the canvas,” she said.

Another song will be “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Reed commented, “I will be thinking of the sacrifice that Christ made for me.”

Across the CRC and in many other churches, ashes will be distributed in one form or another today. Often people receive a thumbprint of ashes on their foreheads as a sign of their fragility and desire to do better, and then they go about their day without washing the ashes off. But COVID-19 restrictions are putting a damper on that.

Still, there is much that churches will do today and throughout the next several weeks leading up to Easter.

As the Lenten season unfolds, the CRCNA has many resources available to give churches and worship leaders a range of ideas on ways to commemorate the Lenten journey and then to celebrate Easter.

Here is a look at some of those resources:

  • The CRC Office of Social Justice’s Climate Witness Project is inviting people to join in a journey of creation care this Lent. Each week the project will share practical challenges and scriptural reflections on how to be faithful stewards during this season of worship.
  • Faith Formation Ministries is offering a range of resources, pointing to ways to help churches and families who are seeking ways to celebrate this season.
  • The Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary is offering sermon ideas for every Sunday during Lent and for Easter.
  • Worship Ministries has released a list of resources, with more to come.
  • The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has a range of Lenten art, music, devotions, liturgies, books, and sermons to help churches plan worship for Lent and includes resources for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
  • Faith Alive has a variety of resources to help celebrate this sacred season at church and at home. Download this free Lenten sampler for your personal or family devotions for this season from the book Seeking God’s Face, which provides daily prayers and readings year after year. The book is available in standard, large-print, and compact editions as well as in ebook formats.