"Might there be a stony place in you that needs transforming?  Some attitude or habit that, with a little attention, might even become a gift for you and others?"


What is Lent in a Bag?

We have discovered that distributing small bags – cloth, paper, or ziplock bags – with symbols of the season assists individuals and families in practicing Lent at home. In addition to the items in the bag, we include instructions and reflections (on purple paper of course) to go with each item.

Place the Following Items in a Bag of Your Choice

Instruction Sheet
Include a piece of paper with these (or similar) instructions, or attach it to the outside of the bag:

"Here are two suggestions for using the contents of this bag:
1. Choose one night of the week and invite those around your table to pick one of the symbols as a starting point for conversation for the whole group, including children.
2. For your own devotion, daily or weekly, choose one of the symbols for your own reflection as you make your way through the season of Lent."

Place a sealable baggie filled with sand. Include the following (or similar) reflection:

"Just between his baptism and the beginning of his adult ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days, ‘to be tested’. What constitutes wilderness in your life?  What have you learned there? What might you learn there?"

Place a rock inside the bag. Include the following (or similar) reflection:

"While in the wilderness, Jesus was invited to transform stone into bread. Though he resisted the temptation there and then, he became justly renowned for feeding people who were hungry for food, or for love, or for a word of encouragement, or for simple acceptance. Might there be a stony place in you that needs transforming? Some attitude or habit that, with a little attention, might even become a gift for you and others?"

Human Figure 
Use a clothespin or wooden figure. Place inside the bag with the following (or similar) reflection:

"Because Jesus was, as we confess, fully human, he gets us, understands us from inside our skin, and knows from experience that we’re each capable of great things, Godly things. And no matter what we do, he keeps on inviting us to join us in his work which has become our own. As you enter this Lent, what might you plan to do over these 40 days so that come Easter you will more closely reflect the Christ who lives in and through you?"

Place a candle inside the bag. Include the following (or similar) reflection:

"Lent begins in the dimness of late winter and ends with the burst of bright spring. Jesus is, according to John’s gospel, ‘The Light of the World’ and that Light insists: ‘You are the light of the world. Don’t be hiding under some bushel basket.’  So where do you shine? How do you keep your light lit?"


Additional Resources for Lent in a Bag

Thank you, Building Faith readers, for these helpful extras to go along with Lent in a Bag.

Tri-fold Instruction Booklet by Gail Jackins

Leader Guide for Individuals, Households, or Groups by Anne-Marie Miller


The Reverend Shawn Schreiner is the Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, Illinois. Vicki Garvey is the Associate for Christian Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. 


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