Celebrate Lent with children this year and make this season of reflection and preparation rich for the whole family. Pick and choose from our ideas. And we’d love to hear from you, too. Don’t forget to share how your family celebrates in the comments below!
Celebrate Lent with Children through Education
First, increasing understanding helps us all understand what it is we’re celebrating and why. It adds significance to the experience as you celebrate with children. Share these facts with them and invite further conversation through questions that come up.
- Explain that on Ash Wednesday we use ashes of the burned palm branches used last Palm Sunday. Additionally, explain that there is nothing that God can’t use, even when it is seemingly worthless. Moreover, speak about the circle of the year and the connection we experience to the past, present and future in our faith.
- Describe for your children that the ashes remind us that we are all united by that fact that we’re made from the dust of the earth. Additionally, we are truly and simply dust passing through the universe, one with everything and with God.
- The word “lent” comes from the old English word “lencten”, which means lengthen. So, this points to the fact that in the spring the days are getting longer.
- Purple is the liturgical color that is often used in worship spaces during Lent. Explain that purple was a color of royalty as well as mourning. Therefore, we use it preparing to mourn the death of Jesus, called the King.
- Lent lasts 40 days because it’s the amount of time Jesus spent in the wilderness before going to the cross.
- Some people fast and can do so for several reasons. First, they may use it to remember how Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Second, they may reflect and prepare for the mystery of Easter. Third, they may remind themselves of their dependence on God.
- Fasting means to refrain from something, usually eating but not always. Discuss with your children what else we might fast from, e.g.: technology, TV, sweets or soda.
Celebrate Lent with Children through Study
Second, studying God’s word and reflecting together illuminates areas of our lives and hearts in which God is working. Additionally, as you celebrate Lent with children, as with any other spiritual practice, we learn a lot about each other. As a result, this deepens connection and intimacy within the family and increases the variance of our own perspective.
There are several Lenten devotional guides out there. If you’re searching for the right one for your family, you can check out our newest edition of An Illustrated Lent for Families, here.
Celebrate Lent with Children through Service
Third, in your community, search for a way that you and your children can give back. Also, talk with them about the abundance you have and why we give of ourselves sacrificially. Consequently, this opens the possibility, as you celebrate Lent with children, to speak about Jesus’ sacrificial giving that he taught during his life and in his death.
For example, perhaps serve at a homeless shelter or food pantry. Also, you may consider heading over to an animal shelter to donate blankets or food. Alternatively, head to a local park or beach and pick up trash. Or help out on a local farm. There are myriad ways to help our children offer themselves to others. So, get creative and invite them into the process of gathering ideas for service.
Celebrate Lent with Children through Prayer
Fourth, choose a prayer that resonates with you and your children that you’d like to say at dinner or bedtime each evening of Lent. For example, St. Francis of Assisi has several lovely options. Here’s a portion of one:
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
We hope this has been helpful and given you some ideas for your own Lenten journey. Don’t forget to share in the comments below!