Monday, February 4, 2013

Observing Lent With Children

This is a re-post from last year, the ways that we observe Lent as a family.

This year the season of Lent begins on Wednesday, February 13 and ends on Saturday, March 30.

Kids love symbols, and Lent is a good time to use symbols to teach our kids spiritual truth.  Being reluctant to practice any kind of religious observance that will cause dread or fear in my kids, I am careful how we approach Lent, and I do not ask them to give anything up or fast, but try to focus on what we do for Lent. 

I removed many of the decorations from our home and replaced them with purple cloth and bare branches, and a pot of aloe on the mantel which is the language for grief or sorrow.  On Easter morning the bare branches bloom with bright bouquets of flowers.

A dark, wintery painting hangs in our living room throughout Lent, which on Easter morning is  replaced with a painting of vibrant color. Last year I had the girls paint it.

On Ash Wednesday we make crosses with ash on paper and go around the table and each name something that is sad or heavy in the world.  For each problem named we add a stone to a box, and then along with the stones is placed a paper with the word “Hallelujah”.  We explained that even with all of these problems and sadness in the world, we still can say Hallelujah, Praise God.  Then we bury the box in the backyard.  On Easter morning we unearth our Hallelujah, and the stones have “turned into” sparkly gems or butterflies.  One day all shall be made well.

I printed out a calendar for the 40 days of Lent for the kids to color each day.  Each day we pray for a specific thing: our President, pastors, school, etc.  We talk about ways that we can bless others.

During Lent we will be on the look-out for signs of spring (resurrection!).  We will bring them home to display on our nature table, or to color in a "spring-sightings" journal.

In the weeks leading up to Easter we will be spring cleaning; sorting out, washing up, giving away.

One of our favorite Easter traditions is to make Resurrection Rolls on the Saturday before Easter, to serve with our Easter dinner.  Very simple and memorable way to explain the resurrection to young children.

Of course all of this is only a tangible reminder, an outward work to turn us to the real work of Lent which is self-examination, self-denial, repentance: a clean heart. Now we are truly ready to celebrate the resurrection.

Great post by Rachel Held Evans: 40 Ideas for Lent.


ali said...

First of all, I know I've been commenting more lately. I'm not creepy, I just can't work until my license processes so, I read, a lot. Blogs, books, anything.

Anyway, I like this a lot. Can I link it???

Jessica Stock said...

YES! Thanks Ali! I love your comments! :-)

Cami said...

I am sure I commented last year when you posted about how your family experiences lent. It's lovely and inspiring. Thank you.