Lent starts on 10th February in 2016, and if you want to make the most of this rich season in the Church's year it'd be best to start thinking about it now!

When the period begins on Ash Wednesday, why not make use of Kieran's Ashes of Lament Confession idea? A service on this day helps everyone start on the path of Lent together, journeying with Jesus on his road from the temptations in the wilderness through to the agony of Good Friday.

Musically, Lent is a prime opportunity to introduce material which touches on the more shadowy sides of life. The Psalms and Jesus don't seem to have a problem with expressing lament, anguish, questions and doubts, so maybe our songs should a bit more. Sunil from the engageband has written a fantastic song based on Psalm 88 called Hear this broken cry. For other songs on these themes check out Iona Community material.

Sam also has a song on the Lenten themes of prayer, fasting and trust in God. You can find sheet music and recordings from RESOUNDworship.org via this link, and also a free PowerPoint with appropriate visuals. 'You lead us through the wilderness' is intentionally folky and stripped down in style, because we like to take Lent as an opportunity to give some of the drums and electric instruments a break for a season. It reminds people that we don't need these things to worship God - and highlights the celebration on Easter morning when you bring the band back!

Rather than the self-help approach of 'giving up' a treat, why not be more positive and see Lent as a time to 'take up' a new discipline, activity or pattern? This could be on your own, but how much better if you can do it in community with friends, your worship team or your whole church? You could work through a devotional book, a Bible reading approach, or experiement with using a set prayer structure for the period (for instance the Northumbria Community offices, Andy Stinson's poetic Night Prayer, or we've recently bought Shane Claibourne's Common Prayer book which has some great material.)

One year our friend Sunil took a very creative approach - he wrote, recorded and posted online one new piece of music for each day of Lent, on the theme of Wilderness. There is some great material to listen to there - but also you can be inspired to try your own creative project for this year. Could you write a poem, blog or prayer, paint a picture, take a photograph, or something else specific to you; it could be every day or once a week, but see it as your Lenten devotion?

Thinking a bit further along the season, Guy Houchen posted a great Easter Bracelet idea to lead you through the themes of Holy Week. This is something you could base teaching material around for a few weeks leading up to Easter Sunday.

Also, Angela Bryan has come up with a great multi-sensory, All Age service idea which walks through the last week of Jesus' life on earth. You could use this on Palm Sunday or some other oppertune moment!

Do let us know other things you have done, or are planning to do this year, by commenting below. Here's to a blessed Lent!