My Lenten “To Do” List

So, today is the first day of Lent. Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. Lent is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. All churches that have a continuous history extending before AD 1500 observe Lent. The ancient church that wrote, collected, canonized, and propagated the New Testament also observed Lent, believing it to be a commandment from the apostles. So, there is no Biblical mandate to observe Lent, rather, Lent was created as a way for people to reflect, regroup, retreat, restate, and on and on.

Traditionally, in the Western Church, Lent is 40 days long starting on Ash Wednesday and ending the day before Easter. Note that Sundays are not counted in the 40 days, as each Sunday is a celebration; a mini-Easter.

Many people “Give something up” for Lent… like chocolate, soda, Facebook, or ice cream. Some people “Take something on” during Lent… being more even-tempered, working with the homeless, reading scripture, or journaling. For me, this year I plan to jump around a bit. Here is a list of what I am planning on doing for the next 40 days…
Day 1: Visit The UCC’s Daily Devotional Page ( and sign up to receive a daily devotional. 
Day 2: Fast for lunch (just water).
Day 3: Pray for those who are lost.
Day 4: Donate $20 to a non-profit.
(Sunday) – Celebration… blog about days 1-4
Day 5: Pray for those who are burdened.
Day 6: Find the beauty in the everyday
Day 7: Donate 5 items of clothing to Goodwill or the Salvation Army
Day 8: No Complaining day
Day 9: Help someone with their tasks or chores
Day 10: Buy a few $5 food gift cards to donate to a shelter
(Sunday) – Celebration… blog about days 5-10
Day 11: Call an old friend
Day 12: Pray the News (pray for people and situations in today’s newspaper)
Day 13: Read Psalm 139
Day 14: Sincerely complement others.
Day 15: Don’t turn on the car radio today
Day 16: Educate myself about human trafficking 
(Sunday) Celebration… blog about days 11-16
Day 17: Forgive someone
Day 18: Share a meal with a friend
Day 19: Change one light in my house to an energy-efficient bulb
Day 20: Check out morning and evening prayer at
Day 21: Ask for help
Day 22: Tell someone what I am are grateful for
(Sunday) Celebration… Blog about days 17-22
Day 23: Pray for youth and young adult leaders.
Day 24: Read Psalm 121 
Day 25: Bake a cake or bread or pie and share
Day 26: No shopping day
Day 27: Say a prayer and light a virtual candle
Day 28: Say a prayer and light an actual candle
(Sunday) – Celebration… blog about days 23-28
Day 29: Write a thank you note to my favorite mentor
Day 30: Invest in reusable shopping bags
Day 31: Use Freecycle
Day 32: Donate art supplies to an elementary school
Day 33: Read John 8:1-11
Day 34: Participate in a service project.
(Sunday) – Celebration… blog about days 29-34
Day 35: Confess a secret
Day 36: No sugar day
Day 37: Donate $20 to a local non-profit
Day 38: Educate myself about Easter
Day 39: Pray for peace
Day 40: Pray for those who are lost
After completing this list, I will decide which activates I want to continue…


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About Neal Washburn
Neal grew up in Greenfield, Massachusetts and was a member of First Congregational Church in Greenfield. He was also a youth member of the Massachusetts UCC United Church Youth Council. Neal spent many years working with the Mass Conference Outdoor Ministries. Neal and his wife Pamela moved to Southern New Hampshire, became a member of First Church Nashua, and again spent many years serving with the New Hampshire UCC Conference Outdoor Ministries as a counselor, unit leader, and member of the OM Board of Directors. Professionally, Neal is an Information Systems Engineer with the MITRE Corporation. In 2004 Neal, Pam, and their children Whitney, Evan and Annalise relocated to Southern California so Neal could support the local MITRE office in San Diego. Neal and his family joined the First Congregational Church of Escondido and Neal became involved with Christian Education teaching Confirmation Classes. In 2005 Neal became a volunteer counselor at Pilgrim Pines working with the Conference Youth Ministries Camp (CYMC). Soon after, Neal became one of the adult advisors to the Conference’s Youth Roundtable. Neal has been a counselor and dean at Junior High JANboree and FEB Camp; and a counselor and co-director of CYMC. In September of 2008, Neal became the Youth and Young Adults Ministries Coordinator for the Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC.

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