When Rev. Amanda Bakale started as pastor of faith formation at Community Christian Reformed Church in Kitchener, Ont., almost four years ago, she knew a key to forming faith was connecting what was spoken and learned at church with what was lived through the week. Last year she invited the congregation into a tangible experience of Lent, the 40-day season leading up to Easter.
Bakale put together “Lent-in-a-Bag”—sets of devotions and corresponding objects that were kid-friendly and tactile, each connected to her sermon series of the time. Sand, for example, invited people to think about “desert” experiences in our lives; a seed suggested that times of darkness and waiting can bring growth. One family planted the seed in their backyard; the sunflower that grew from it reminded them well into summer of God’s timing and promises.
The church plans tactile or experiential connections for both Advent and Lent, said Bakale. “People start to look for something, but it’s different every year, so they don’t know what to look for. There’s some anticipation built into that, which is great.”
For 2019, Community CRC is planning a Lent Passport. Each of the worship services during Lent will appear in the passport, which participants can have stamped at each service. The booklet will also include Scripture and suggested activities for each week. Themes will correspond with the sermon series on grace and holiness; passport tie-ins include citizenship or belonging and the idea of a journey, said Bakale.
“Devotions are important, especially in the home,” said Bakale. “So we’re finding ways to invite people to home faith practices so that it’s an invitation and not a burden.” The ideas for both Lent experiences came from an ecumenical group of women clergy of which Bakale is a member. Lent in 2019 begins on Wednesday, March 6.