A Guide for the Busy Parent
The Christian Calendar has been around for centuries. It is comprised of different seasons in which Christians order their year to help them remember and practice their faith in a way that centers Christ in our yearly rhythms. These seasons and events aren’t only for our Catholic brothers and sisters, all Christians from all denominations can find richness in these practices and seasons. From Advent and Christmastide to Lent and Eastertide, and all of the Ordinary Time in between, these moments on the Church Calendar help our family engage in rhythms of the life of the global church. We feel connected to other Christ followers around the world as we observe these moments. And we feel connected to what God is doing in our world these days as well.
What is Lent?
Lent is one of the seasons of the Church and it is a solemn 40 day season of self-reflection, repentance, and scripture meditation as a way to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Easter and Christs victory over death. It starts with Ash Wednesday and goes through Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, forty fasting days and six feasting Sundays (although Christians today adjust what they fast and how they observe it).
Many church traditions observe Lent by by fasting—traditionally by abstaining from eating meat, fish, eggs, and fat, though many contemporary Christians will instead give up on “luxury” item during lent. (For example: Social Media, TV, etc.) Then on Sunday’s for lent, christians use those day’s as mini Easters, times to “feast” and celebrate Christs sacrifice for us. You can use your Sabbath day as this time as well.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is an invitation and a call. It is an invitation to remember and turn to God in all things. And it is a call to turn from things that are and have been pulling us away and turn back to Christs loving arms.
…And the dust returns to the Earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.Ecclesiastes 12:7
A Call to Turn To…
On Ash Wednesday we receive ashes on our foreheads as a reminder that from God is where we find our origin and to God we are to return in the end (Gen. 3:19). Observing the seasons of The Church keeps us connecting to God for all the time in between. As we receive these ashes we are invited to turn away what has been pulling us away from God as the center of our being (our sin) and return our minds and hearts to Christ and his love for us. These ashes invite us to re-engage with Christ through self-reflection and meditation on scripture.
A Call to Turn Away…
As we receive the ashes on Ash Wednesday we are also called to turn away from things that have consumed our minds and hearts and turn to Christ (repent). This season of lent is a good time to reflect, confess, repent and cling to Christ as Christ in preparation of celebrating Christs victory over sin and death on Easter.
This season is also a really great time to help our kids engage with the beautiful and powerful symbolism that we find in Ash Wednesday and Lent.
How to Do Lent and Ash Wednesday with Kids
A Guide for Busy Parents
Ash Wednesday with Kids- SAY IT:
When talking to kids about Lent and Ash Wednesday here are some words and phrases to help you intentionally disciple them during this season.
- Ash Wednesday- Is the first day in Lent. We place ashes on our forehead on this day to help us remember that we come from God and to God we will return some day. God is the beginning of all things and God is the end too. The ashes also remind us to turn to God with our hearts and minds.
- Lent- Lent is a 40 day period of time where we take the time to keep turning our minds to God. We take time to think about things we may have said or done or even thought some times that make God’s heart sad. During these 40 days, people usually decide on something they are turning away from (or giving up) AND something they are turning to (or starting to do).
- Examples for things to STOP doing for the Lent Season: Less time watching TV, No juice only water, sugary cereals, delete favorite apps, complaining, etc.
- Examples for things to START doing for Lent Season: Start a family devotion time, memorize scripture, start a devotional reading every day, pray for someone new every day, memorize The Lords Prayer, Save up money to give to a particular charity or cause.
Ash Wednesday with Kids- DO IT:
Idea 1- Gather something to use as ashes to place on the forehead or back of hand-
- Soil from backyard or potted plant. Place a few drops of oil into it to help it form more of a paste.
- Drop by your nearest art store and pick up some charcoal pencils. Rub it on some paper and from there get some on your finger to place on head/hand. Or you can form the cross on a paper with it and place the paper on the head/hand to transfer it to skin.
- Use the cooled down wick of a candle at home. Pinch it and use the ashes of that for the skin.
Idea 2- Make a Lent Link Garland-
Cut up 40 strips of paper (color paper, construction paper, printer paper, whatever you have). Have kids write the name of some one on on different sheets of paper to pray for. On other pages you can write “The Lords Prayer”, Scripture. Staple each sheet of paper like a chain link.
Every day for 40 days, starting with Ash Wednesday, have the kids take turns taking down a chain link and do what is said on the link, pray for a person, lead the family in saying a prayer or reciting a scripture, etc.
Idea 3: Write & Commit together-
Have kids (and yourself) write down 1 thing you are giving up for lent and 1 thing you are starting for this 40 day lenten season. Also, for “feasting days” (Sunday’s or your Sabbath day) write down how you will “feast” to celebrate Christs Sacrifice for us!
Finally, a great way to bring any activity you are doing with the kids to a close is to end in prayer. Kids of all ages can take turns praying to close your time together. This can be a wonderful time of drawing closer together as a family as you draw closer to the Lord.
Lent Resources for Kids & Their Busy Parents
Here are some resources you can use for yourself and your children as you draw close to the Lord and engage in this season of Lent.
Resources for Kids
Lent Tracker- Etsy
Here is a fun and helpful Lent Tracker you can purchase on Etsy that your kids can use to remind them of what they are practicing this lenten season (or make your own).
Go Minno- Christian Videos for Kids
Minno is a video subscription service that gives you access to tons of videos for Christian families. It’s our families go to source to start conversations with our kids especially during these seasons of The Church.
UPDATE: They have these FREE, wonderful family devotions cards for you to download. To access them visit the Minno Blog Post HERE.
Resources for Parents-
She Reads Truth- Lent Study
The She Reads Truth Community will be reading through Joshua and Mark during this season. You can order a printed copy of the readings, follow on the app, receive their emails or a combination of all of them.
Pray as You Go App
This is one of my favorite apps for prayer and meditation! It’s not sleek, it’s not fancy. But it has lead me through great times of meditation and prayer. Pray as You Go is a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable devices, to help you pray whenever you find time.
This app has a few Lent devotionals available for you to use this season. The YouVersion App gives you tools to seek God’s heart daily. It contains the Bible as well as hundreds of devotionals for you to use.
You don’t need to do a million things or even all the things to engage in Lent and Ash Wednesday with your kids. Choose as many or as little as you can to start doing. The objective isn’t amount but the quality of time you spend talking to and engaging your kids in what it means to be a follower of Christ. Talk about your journey, what you are learning what you’ve been thinking and hoping for during this season. It is sure to be a rich time for you and your family.
For more tips on how to help disciple your kids to know and love the Lord, check out my post, Start Raising Kids that Love Jesus.