So I’ve eaten my way through a tonne of pancakes on Tuesday and I’ve attended an Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, nothing else now to do until for the 40 days until Easter, right?
NO. Lent is the season of preparation. There is more to be done than just attending services each Sunday or heading to church for the annual visit come Easter. Yet that was basically the pattern of my experience of Lent as I was growing up.
So why would I want to encourage families to adopt Lenten practices when I grew up without any in a Christian Household and nor did we practice Lent as my children were growing up?
This was the question I asked myself as I tried to prepare a Lenten list of resources for Families this year.
What has changed in me that I now feel that this opportunity for spiritual development and community building should be embraced and practiced by the whole Christian community, and especially by family groups?
This is the list I came up with
- Practicing at home extends the experience of Lent into the lived experience, and beyond the church door.
- It extends the opportunity for children to learn and use the concepts and words of faith, away from the Church buildings, especially when faith practices are being discouraged in the wider communities and in our schools
- It unifies the Christian community, Catholic and Protestant.
- Gives an opportunity to deepen our spiritual practices of Biblical Study, Prayer and Action.
- Allows us to share intergenerationally, grandparents, parents and children.
- Faith Transmission appears to be stronger in families where faith practices are encouraged in all family members daily. Ie https://parentingforfaith.org/topics/resources try John W. Westerhoff III”s Will our Children have Faith (Harrisburg, Moorehouse, 2012) and even youth studies showing the influenceshttps://theconversation.com/new-research-shows-australian-teens-have-complex-views-on-religion-and-spirituality-103233
- United Nations Convention of the rights of the child to spiritual expression https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
As well as my own personal experiences as I have opened my life up to Lenten practices and what I have observed in the children of the Families I have ministered to.
So if you have never experienced a Lenten preparation may I make these very simple starting practice suggestions, and encourage you to find time this Lent to be intentional and share it with your family.
Mark the time.
I have found young children find it a very long season, it helps if they can count it down so try https://www.catholicicing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/printable-lenten-calendar-packet.pdf, even the very young like to colour in a square each day.
OR https://www.max7.org/en/resource/lentscripturechain, for the very young you could omit the bible verses.
FOR family studies try
If you use the Jesus Bible Storybook, here is a list of readings for each day https://gallery.mailchimp.com/ab72d4fa9d5333c84cac6e2b1/files/ccf110c4-5b89-46fb-a561bc1714a8ab83/The_Jesus_Storybook_Bible_Lent_2019_Printable_Reading_Guide_by_Sally_Lloyd_Jones.pdf
OR for a small financial outlay, for a down loadable guide try https://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com/collections/illustrated-family-resources/products/an-illustrated-lent-for-families-reflections-on-prayer great for families that love colouring
SING IT OUT
You might like to sing it out, it could be changing what you do listening to Christian radio station, or playing any of Seeds music https://www.seedsfamilyworship.com
Or do Lent with a good cause see https://40acts.org.uk/?fbclid=IwAR37q6DUWNPDpVVwZTeHRZ-2jAzAdHSHdAMe1BFsMHOnv9XGYSSyTZ73zLU
Give it a go.
And no it’s never too late to start.