Lenten Season Guides and Videos

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In the previous session, we learned how Martin Luther wrote that repentance consists in two things: contrition for sins and “taking hold of the promise.” The “promise” here is the gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the promise of new life in the fullness of God’s reign. It is the promise of the gospels and the prophets, the promise our ancestors in the faith clung to, and the promise that carries the people of God today into communities around the world, accompanying neighbors amid staggering challenges of poverty, hunger and injustice.

In the Gospels, Jesus not only proclaims the promise but lives it. From Galilee to Calvary, he shows us what it means to live according to the promise – boldly, courageously and with faith unceasing. In the face of religious and political persecution, Jesus lives the daring life of faith in God’s grace.

While his trial before Pilate gets more attention, Jesus’ unrelenting march toward Jerusalem is one of the clearest examples of what it means to “take hold of the promise.” He travels from town to town, “teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem” (Luke 13:22). At one stop, a group of Pharisees warns him that he must flee because Herod wants to kill him. “Go and tell that fox for me,” Jesus responds, “I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work” (Luke 13:31-32).

Herod is coming for him, and Jesus responds, “I have work to do.” Jesus showed daring confidence that not even death can WEEK 2 10 11 stop the work of God in the world.

It is that grace-formed confidence that many people of faith bring to the calling of the church – seeing even in the midst of death that there is work to be done.

In Akron, Ohio, the Dare to Love More Food and Resources program at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is bringing new life out of death. In fact, as Deacon Marla Wood Kay, the director of Holy Trinity’s congregational ministries, describes, “the idea for this ministry was born in a hospice room." When Debra Manteghi, a longtime member and tireless community advocate, died from cancer, Wood Kay and other leaders at Holy Trinity wanted to continue the ministry Manteghi had begun by opening a food pantry in her honor. Today, the DLM pantry serves 75 families each month, providing them with food, clothing, books, counseling and a safe place for children to play.

More than 82,000 people – about 15.3 percent of the population – in Summit County, where Akron is located, don’t always know where their next meal will come from. Akron faces many of the challenges other Midwestern cities face – a loss of manufacturing jobs, a rise in hunger and poverty, and air and water pollution in some communities. Yet, like other cities across the country and around the world, God is at work through local leaders, families and organizations to shape a bright future. And DLM is part of that work.

In Lent, we remember Jesus’ long walk to Jerusalem and to Calvary. But in faith, we also know that nothing can stop the work of God. Together, we “take hold of the promise” with confidence, knowing that even out of death, God will bring new life and hope to the world.

Herod wants us dead? “I am casting out demons and performing cures” (Luke 13:32).

The shadow of the cross looms ahead of us? “I must be on my way” (Luke 13:33).

A dreaded disease takes the life of a leader and friend? “The idea for this ministry was born in a hospice room.”

Poverty and hunger threaten our community? “Go and tell that fox,” God is not done with us yet.


There are four disciplines, or spiritual practices, that guide our time during Lent. Use the questions and prompts below to reflect on the Lenten disciplines: repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving, and works of love.

Think of a time when fear cast a shadow on your relationships with your neighbors. How does Christ encourage us to go outside our comfort zone to love and serve our neighbors?

This week, include in your prayers ministries like Dare to Love More, which give hope to people in their communities. Give thanks for their work, and ask God to continue to strengthen their ministries.

What goal for giving did you set for yourself or your family last week? Learn more about the ministries supported through your gifts to ELCA World Hunger, like Dare to Love More, by reading stories available at ELCA.org/40Days.

In the face of death, disease and poverty, God continues to bring new life and hope. How do you, your family and your congregation bear witness to courage and hope in an uncertain world?

Lenten Worship Service Video For Week 1


Week 1

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Lent is a story of the journey of the people of God. It is the story of us, or more appropriately “God with us.” During the season, we remember the ancient Hebrews’ journey from slavery in Egypt and a generation spent wandering in the wilderness. We also re-enact, in our own small ways, Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil. The fast that many Christians commit to during Lent is a reflection of the 40- day fast Jesus undertook during this time.

In the sacred time of Lent, we are the Hebrews – wandering in the desert, living in awareness of our dependence on God, and having our faith tested in uncertain times. In the sacred time of Lent, we are Jesus – alone in the wilds of the world, purifying ourselves through the discipline of fasting, and facing head-on the temptations of the world.

Lent is a journey, or a series of journeys, but what we often forget is the part that comes after the journey. The Hebrews weren’t just wandering through the wilderness; they were being prepared to be the people of God in their new land. Jesus wasn’t merely retreating to the desert; he was prepping for the start of his ministry.

In our own Lenten season, we turn inward, reflecting on our dependence on God’s grace. But the disciplines of Lent are not the end of the journey. Through the four practices of Lent – repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving, and works of love – we turn inward so that we may turn outward, toward God and our neighbors. Marked by ashes at the start, we enter the 40 days of Lent with penitent hearts and awareness of our need for God’s mercy. Repentance and self-reflection are important practices, but it’s easy to stay here, forgetting that the season is about so much more than our own self-examination.

Martin Luther captured this well. Luther defined repentance in two ways: “Repentance… consists in contrition, and in the serious acknowledgment of sin, and in taking hold of the promise.” And again: “There are two elements in true repentance: recognition of sin and recognition of grace.” Being marked by ashes, fasting, confession, and other penitent practices of Lent invite us to turn inward. But the spiritual practices of Lent also lead us to turn outward, “taking hold of the promise” of God as we practice the other Lenten disciplines: sacrificial giving and works of love for our neighbors. It is the proclamation of this promise that concludes Jesus’ time in the wilderness: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

We are formed in the disciplines of Lent to be church – together and for the sake of the world. After a generation in the wilderness, the Hebrews came to the promised land as a people consecrated by God to be a “a priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). After facing down temptation, Jesus returned to Galilee and declared the “good news” to the people (Luke 4:18). The journey is not the end of the story, for them or for us.

ELCA World Hunger, as a ministry of this church, is shaped by the Lenten disciplines. In repentance, we recognize the ways sin continues to disrupt communities and contribute to hunger and poverty. Through the ancient practices of prayer and fasting, we are renewed in our commitment to “to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6). By sacrificial giving, we support ministries around the world that give our neighbors a chance at new life and livelihoods. And in works of love, we accompany our neighbors toward a just world where all are fed.

In Lent, we “take hold of the promise” of God’s grace together, knowing that the road does not end at Calvary but at an empty tomb – and the assurance of new life for us, for our neighbors and for all of God’s creation.


There are four disciplines, or spiritual practices, that guide our time during Lent. Use the questions and prompts below to reflect on the Lenten disciplines: repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving, and works of love.

What are some of the challenges that make it difficult to focus on your neighbors?

What fast will you choose this Lent? How will your prayers and fasting help remind you of the needs of your neighbors during the season?

How will you support your neighbors through ELCA ministries this season? Consider committing to a giving goal for Lent, setting a portion aside each day until Palm Sunday.

Martin Luther reminds us that we are not saved by works – but grace does call us to offer our works with joy and gratitude to our neighbors in need. How might you “take hold of the promise” this Lent by your works of love for others?