Lent is a season in the church that is a time of preparation for Easter. It can also be a great time for building in family moments to teach faith! Some of the concepts of fasting, suffering, death, and sacrifice can be difficult for younger children to understand. Begin talking about these concepts (in an age-appropriate way for your children). Here are some ways that you can take the time to slow down and focus on Jesus and the importance of the cross and the resurrection as your family prepares for the season of Easter.
- Look for daily faith reminders. During this season of Lent, look for crosses all around! You might see a cross in the telephone poles, markings on signs, the shadow of tree branches, or in the words that we write. These crosses can remind you that God loves you and is always with you. Every time you see a hidden cross, say a quick word of thanks to God, point it out to each other, and tell each other something that you’re grateful for.
- Do a family service project. Jesus lived his life in service to others. Follow His example, by finding intentional ways that you can serve others. You might sign up to work at a local food pantry or donate clothes to a homeless shelter. You can find an elderly neighbor to help or clean up at a nearby park. There are many acts of kindness you can share to those around you.
- Practice a moment of sacrifice. During Lent, people often fast by giving up something. If this is already a tradition of yours, or something you want to introduce to your children, help them to understand the reasons behind fasting. For a one-time or weekly exercise, have each family member sacrifice something for another family member – this might be sharing a favorite toy, giving up electronics to focus on an evening together, or giving up time to do something nice for another family member.
- Create a forgiveness plan for your family. Make it comfortable for everyone to admit their mistakes. Promise to listen to each other, be understanding, and to forgive. Forgiveness means letting go of hard feelings like anger, sadness, or frustration that happens when you or someone else makes a mistake or does something wrong. It’s saying “thank you” or “that’s okay” when someone apologizes and not staying upset about what they did. It’s having patience with yourself and others, and recognizing that no one is perfect – everyone makes mistakes. It is important to remember that forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. Instead, it is an act of love, mercy, and grace.
- Have a family fun day while explaining redemption. Go to game place (like Main Event, Hey Day, etc) where you play games to earn tickets. Then redeem the tickets for a prize. On the way home, talk about redemption. The dictionary defines “redeem” as, “To buy or pay off; to recover by payment; to make up for; make amends for; offset.” It also defines it as “to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary) It is through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, that he redeems us. He paid the ultimate price. He traded places with us, so in exchange for our sins, He made us right with God!
- Do not simply return to your old ways after Easter. Teach yourself and your children that Lent is a time where can become better people and draw closer to God. These values should last after the season of Lent are over. Keep talking about, reading about, and thinking about Jesus together. So look ahead in your calendar now. Go ahead and schedule your next family service project for after Easter. Set aside a regular time for personal and family devotions. Plan some fun family outings and don’t be afraid to find ways to draw in faith conversations into these moments together.