It feels like we just wrapped up Christmas, but Ash Wednesday is only 2 weeks away! In addition to preparing children for Ash Wednesday, and explaining the purpose behind Lent, here are a few ideas for how to incorporate Lent into daily life at home and weekly parish life.
Life at Home:
- Pray. If you don’t pray as a family, Lent is a great time and place to start. Set up a specific time and space that will be available for family prayers. Light a candle. Use a prayer book. Make it voluntary, but make it important and special, too. “This Lent, I’ll be praying in the living room after dinner for a few minutes and I would love to have you join me. You may choose to do something else that’s quiet, but I will be praying. I would love to have you come pray, too.”
- Consider removing some favorite decorations like pictures or mirrors. I had a friend in college who covered her mirrors and gave up looking at herself for the 6 weeks. While this might be drastic for your family, removing focal points is one jarring and visual way to remind yourself that this is a season of fasting and reflection.
- Give up a default drink or snack that doesn’t provide necessary nutrition. Things like orange juice or an afternoon cookie can be replaced by water or cheese and crackers. For children, giving up a large category like “sweets” or “desserts” can seem overwhelming, but giving up a smaller category like juice or cookies is more doable. This can be voluntary (i.e. talking with your child about giving something up) or obligatory (“Oh, we don’t have that in the pantry right now because it’s Lent, and we don’t buy juice/cookies during Lent.”). This gives regular opportunity to talk about why we give things up and focus our direction on Christ and his sacrifice.
- Give together. Rededicate the money you would spend on that special snack to a ministry that you’ve chosen as a group. Keep a jar or bowl on your table for collecting these donations. Many children will want to contribute from their own bank! They will be able to see a practical, physical representation of what they’re gaining/giving by foregoing treats.
- Make a habit of encouraging others: Gather a stack of stationary, a list of addresses, a roll of stamps, and writing supplies and write encouraging notes as a family for people in your church, community, and abroad. This is a great way to integrate being others-focused into little moments of the day.
Read more about Lenten practices for your family and find more resources on Robin’s blog Worship with Children. And plan to worship with Restoration on Ash Wednesday, March 1 at 7 pm. Children are welcome to participate in the service and a special lesson will be available for children ages 3-7.