Many resources are available for Christian Reformed Church pastors and their congregations interested in finding ways to more fully celebrate the season of Lent as well as Easter Sunday, the high point on the Christian calendar.
The first Sunday of Lent is Feb. 21. Coming from different offices and agencies of the CRC, these resources include daily devotionals, sermon ideas, litanies, and song and hymn suggestions.
"Not so long ago, not a lot of CRC churches paid much attention to liturgical seasons," says Rev. Scott Hoezee, director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.
"But in 1990s, with the growth of the ecumenical movement, resources were recovered. These are some of the riches that we never needed to back off from."
Today, many more CRC congregations are attuned to the rhythms of the church year. Some CRC congregations hold Ash Wednesday Services at which ashes are imposed on the heads of worshippers. Ash Wednesday was Feb. 17.
Ideas for this year's Lenten sermons, says Hoezee, come out of the Gospel of Luke, including passages on Christ's temptation, on sin, and the parable of the Prodigal Son. These are available by accessing: Sermon ideas.
Hoezee also asks pastors to remember that every week the CEP posts new sermon ideas on the "This Week in Preaching" page and that it has over four years' worth of such resources available in the archive.
"Our ministry partner, The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, is always loaded with resources as well," says Hoezee. "They have tons and tons of liturgical resources, including litanies, song and hymn selections."
Currently, and timely also for Lent, says Hoezee, there is a Vital Worship Feature Story on "The Seven Deadly Sins." You can access this article here: Article.
The season of Lent begins the annual journey to Golgotha and the Empty Tomb.
"Lent is a time when we are we are reminded of our sin and mortality leading up to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Lent helps us get more ready for the grand celebration of Easter," Hoezee says.
Additionally, Faith Alive has published a book of daily devotions for this season. A church can purchase 100 or more copies for under $4.
Of the booklet, Through Tears to Joy, Faith Alive says: "During the Lenten season, walk with Jesus as he makes his way down the Via Dolorosa—the Way of Sorrows. Reflect on the meaning of Jesus' suffering and the meaning of suffering in the world. Follow Jesus on his journey, and see how he transforms sorrow into joy. These inexpensive daily devotions are excellent for personal or congregational use."