LENT FOR FAMILIES AT HOME

by Lori Robinson

Categories: Children's Ministry

Lent (February 14 – March 31) can be hard to explain to young children. For one thing, Lent doesn’t have the sense of happy anticipation that Christmas does. And the story we focus on during Lent can be hard to talk about with children.

The story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the central story of our Christian faith. What Jesus said and did shows us the way to closer relationship with God. And it’s through the death and resurrection of Jesus that Christians believe God’s kingdom is possible among us.

It’s important to find ways to share this story with our children at home.  So during Lent, why not be brave (you can do it!) and try something new to make the story of Jesus a bit more accessible for your family. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Create a sacred space for your kids. Find a space in your home and cover it with a purple cloth.  Ask your children to place their most precious objects in the space.  Add flowers or greens.  If you have a cross, place it in the center.  Gather there regularly during Lent to say a simple prayer or read a Bible story.

Make a Jesus tree. Cut ornament shapes out of paper. Use images your children draw about whatever they imagine Jesus’ life to be.  Use a children’s picture Bible or browse the internet for ideas. Then get a tree branch to hang the Jesus ornaments on.

Start a garden. Start an indoor garden to help your children understand the death and rebirth of Christ. Explain how the planting symbolizes the death of Jesus and how the sprouting seed symbolizes His rebirth. When Easter arrives, transplant your seedlings to your yard.

Make pretzels. Pretzels were a common fasting food among early Christians, and they were traditionally made of flour, water and salt. The shape of the simple food signifies the arms crossed in prayer.

Read books about Jesus and Easter.  Here are a few suggestions:

The Jesus Storybook Bible (by Sally Lloyd-Jones)

The Parables of Jesus (by Tomie dePaola)

The Miracles of Jesus (by Tomie dePaola)

The First Easter (by Carol Heyer)

The Story of Easter (by Brian Wildsmith)

At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter (by Nikki Grimes)

Rechenka’s Eggs (by Patricia Polacco)

Act out the “parade” of Palm Sunday as a family. Read Matthew 21:1-9. Make palm branches out of green construction paper.  Take turns being the donkey, Jesus, and the crowd of people greeting Jesus as he enters Jerusalem. Why do you think people were so excited to see Jesus? Decorate the dinner table with your palm branches.

Have a family foot washing.  Read John 13:1-15. Fill a bucket with water. Grab a few towels and take turns washing each other’s feet.  Talk about how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and his commandment that they love one another. What does it mean to truly love one another?

Dye Easter eggs. Easter eggs have been a symbol new life since ancient times. At Easter we experience “new life” in Christ. What are some ways you or your family have experienced new life? What did that feel like?

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No matter what you choose to do at home with your family during Lent, remember the point is to have a family experience together.  Some of these suggestions won’t work the way you hoped they would.  Others may become family traditions.  God is in it all, so take a risk and try something new this Lent at home with your family!