by Jennifer Wright, Editor/Writer
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent observed by many Christians. Over the 40 days leading up to Holy Week and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, many Christians follow the example of Jesus spending time in fasting and prayer in the desert for 40 days from Matthew chapter 4.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
Matthew 4:1-3 (NABRE)
I have to admit, Lent is by far my favorite season in the Church. I’m reminded of Jesus’ humanity that he shares with us, I take the opportunity to forgo something good to strengthen my resolve in denying temptation, and, my favorite part, the music is stunningly beautiful. Singing in my Church’s choir since I was about eight years old, I’ve done a lot of music, but nothing compares to the hauntingly beautiful ancient pieces of Lent and Holy Week. Just the words “Were You There?” can draw a tear as I imagine being present for the crucifixion.
But that’s not what I’m writing to share about today.
I’ve always been taught that for Lent, a good practice is to focus on three things: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I can’t say I always manage (human as I am), but I do try, and I think taking a season to pay particular attention to these ways to draw closer to Christ is not only healthy, but necessary. And individuals don’t have to do it alone. Here are a couple ideas for your pregnancy help organization to participate in the Lenten season this year. Perhaps something new will carry into the rest of the year, or maybe it will just make the Easter celebration a little sweeter for you and your staff, but I encourage you to participate this Lent either way.
- Take a break for daily prayer with your staff and volunteers. It can be totally optional (Heartbeat’s 9am daily prayer is, but many participate year-round), but taking a moment to invite everyone into prayer for your supporters, clients, and each other has many benefits, including keeping your team a little more aware of the rest of the organization.
- Share a particular, specific prayer with any client that you find ready for prayer. This could be something you write, or a prayer you find helpful from another source. It can be something as simple as one line, such as “Jesus, I trust in You.” The goal is to invite clients into a life of prayer if appropriate. Remember, determining the right opportunity for this invitation will take prudence and temperance.
- Pray particularly for the pregnancy help movement around the world, especially those providing pregnancy help in Ukraine, and refugees fleeing to countries like Poland, Moldova, and other locations. (Click here for specific prayer requests from our affiliates in Ukraine.)
- Fasting doesn’t always have to be from food, but it should be a sacrifice. For example, when fasting from food isn’t a healthy option for me (as a pregnant or breastfeeding mother), I fast from social media. That may not be a good option for a pregnancy help organization building a following on Facebook or Instagram, but maybe fasting from caffeine or mobile games would be a good option. (Note: If your Lenten sacrifice is a trial for the people around you, you may want to consider something else.)
- Make a sacrifice of simplicity for your meals and drinks for the season, and every time you choose the plain coffee instead of the latte or the water instead of the soda, offer that small sacrifice up for your clients or for a donor you plan to speak to that day.
- Fast from hot showers (and take only lukewarm showers instead), or give up your pillow at night, and offer that sacrifice up for the success of your organization or the strengthening of your team.
- Try offering a new service or material aid to clients. Whether it’s a just-for-Lent kind of thing or the start of a new year-round resource, your clients will be grateful. Just to be clear, offering Baby Bucks or Mommy Money for attending classes and having clients shop for resources is not what we’re talking about here. These are fantastic services, but maybe for Lent, you give out an extra pack of diapers along with every item purchased with what your client earned or something even more generous.
- Invite past clients or current clients who are relatively well-off to share baby items they don’t need anymore with current clients in need. Maybe even invite past clients to meet with a new or expecting mom who could use a friend. Building the opportunity for others to give of themselves is a great way to facilitate almsgiving.
- Consider whether your organization might be able to give to Heartbeat’s HALO (Helping Affiliated Life-Affirming Organizations) Fund. Right now, we plan to use those funds to support refugees from Ukraine who need pregnancy help wherever they are in Eastern Europe, and to support our affiliates in Ukraine if and when it is possible.
May your Lent be a blessed time for drawing nearer to the Lord. God bless you.