Lenten Outings
Shared by Rev. Ali Smith, Forest Hill United Church

At Forest Hill United Church, we did something different for the Season of Lent this year.

 Typically, we have a four to six week study of some sort during this time period.  But we put that aside to focus on some spiritual practices and to get outside the walls of the church building.

Our Lenten theme was “Living with Intention.”  During worship, we talked about trying to be more aware of seeing God in the world and in our lives and being more intentional in our day-to-day lives.  Outside of worship, we participated in three outings that helped us to see God in some of the more ordinary things that we do.

We didn’t go very far for the first outing – just to the church kitchen.  We have a chef in our congregation so we asked him to offer a cooking class.  The class was capped at 7 participants and the cost was $15 per person.  The meal contained only local foods and the menu consisted of red fife cranberry bannock, arctic char with a choice of mushroom cream sauce or blueberry butter, and a dessert of baked apples with maple sugar.

For the second outing, people were invited to attend a film screened by our local film society.  Fourteen  people watched Dustin Hoffman’s “Quartet” starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gammon and Bill Connelly.  Spending an evening laughing together at this great comedy and listening to the great opera music of its soundtrack was a wonderful experience!

For the third outing, we invited folks to go to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and look at the artwork together.  A woman in our congregation who is involved with the Gallery gave ten of us an hour and half tour of the pieces.  She shared incredible stories behind the paintings and artists.  The experience left us with a lot to reflect upon.  A handout was provided to each participant outlining the process of Visio Divina or “Sacred Seeing.” Participants were invited to reflect on a painting.

This approach to Lent was very well received.  I received positive feedback on the outings and people shared stories about how our theme of “Living with Intention” affected them over the past month or so.

So, I strongly recommend churches getting outside of their buildings for Lent and seeing how your community can turn ordinary activities into spiritual practice simply with intentional focus.