Monday, February 11, 2013

Let’s Look at Lent

            Remember when Jesus fasted 40-days in the wilderness? Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 describe His period of self-imposed fasting and resistance to relentless temptation.

            Today, Lent is a 40-day season before Easter when we fast - or go without something significant – to help us identify with our Lord. We focus on self-denial and earthly inconvenience for 40-days although poverty, simplicity, and sacrifice were Jesus’ life. In the Church of the Nazarene and other evangelical denominations, Lent isn’t emphasized. But it need not be a mystery to us or our children.

            The name comes from the Teutonic word for springtime, and can be viewed as a time of spiritual spring-cleaning. Beginning on Ash Wednesday – the seventh Wednesday before Easter – the season can be used for clearing out anything that hinders our relationship with and service to Jesus. Many use this time for earnest soul-searching and penitence in preparation to celebrate His Resurrection at Easter.

            There are many ways to introduce Lent and begin meaningful family traditions. To make this season more important and bring your family together try these ideas:

·        Encourage each member to “give up” something of value. The sacrifice for children can be a week without television, music, or desserts. Adults might try walking rather than using the car, not eating meat, or the family can forgo fast foods restaurants.

·        At the start of Lent, ask each member of select one day during the season as his or her special day. On that day, the person must be especially kind and helpful and verbally compliment other family members.

·        Invite each to be responsible for one week of meantime prayers.

·        As a family, serve food one night each week in a homeless shelter.

·        Each day during Lent read a short Bible story with your family about an event in Jesus’ life. This is an excellent way to reflect on His life, death and Resurrection.

·        Donate clothing and toys to a shelter or charitable organization of your choice.

·        Write encouragement notes to neighbors and friends.

·        Sit together in family worship at church.

·        Read aloud the Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 accounts. Then discuss why and how Jesus was tempted. Relate this to today and how we can resist the enemy’s lies.

·        Discuss the background of Lent and why you feel it’s important for spiritual growth.

·        With a bag of jellybeans, pick out colors and recite the Jellybean Prayer:

                        Red is for the blood Christ gave

                        Green is for the palm’s cool shade

                        Yellow is for God’s light so bright

                        Orange is for prayers at twilight

                        Black is for sweet rest at night

                        White is for the Grace of Christ

                        Purple is for His days of sorrow

                        Pink is for each new tomorrow.

·        For older children, you might share from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer:

                        “Almighty God,

                        You know that we have no power in ourselves

                        to help ourselves:

                        Keep us both outwardly in our bodies

                        and inwardly in our souls,

                        that we may be defended from all adversities

                        which may happen to the body,

                        and from all evil thoughts

                        which may assault and hurt the soul;

                        through Jesus Christ our Lord,

                        who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

                        one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

·        Eggs represent life. As you color Easter eggs, explain that Jesus gave his life so we might have life more abundantly.

·        Visit a Christian bookstore and find books about Lent.

·        Tour a museum and point out the works of art, which depict Christ’s Passion.

            Lenten fasting continues until the end of Holy Week, despite its ending Liturgically on Thursday. May your family be drawn together as you reflect on the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrected life we live, and hope for, as Christians.
So what are some ways your family observes Lent? Please leave your comment below.

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