Lent for Children and Families
As we embark on the 40-day journey of Lent, Salem’s Children and Family Ministry encourages families at Salem to embrace a spiritual practice or discipline as a family. Just like you plan for your children’s or your family’s spring break, spend some time thinking carefully about how your family can prepare your hearts and minds for this Lenten Season. To help you get started with your journey, We are providing families with a small bowl and soap as a centerpiece for your home. Below are some ideas about how you can use this Lenten centerpiece in your own homes and lives.
The bowls and soap are intentionally meant to orient your hearts and minds to the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet found in John 13:1-17. In this passage Christ demonstrates His love for each and everyone of us by taking the role of a humble servant. Read the story together from your family’s favorite Bible and consider some of these Lenten practices.
- Fill the bowl with water and setting it in the middle of your dinner table to remind you to take a moment each day to confess your sins and ask for forgiveness before God.
- Take a moment to thank and praise God that He sent His Son Jesus to be the means of salvation for all people. Consider placing the soap with the bowl or in the bathroom as a way to remind you that Jesus washes our sins away when we ask for forgiveness and believe in Him.
- Talk about how Jesus came as a Servant King, and how He washed the disciple’s feet. Practice this by washing each other’s hands before or after a meal. Add a short addition to your mealtime prayer: “Thank you, Jesus, for loving me!”
- Use the bowl and soap in the bathtub. Fill the bowl with water and rinse your child’s soapy feet or hands with the water. Talk about how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
We realize that God may be calling you to do something different with your family this Lenten season. We encourage you to consider choosing a spiritual discipline for your family to practice. If you need some ideas, we have provided a few below and several blogs or online resources to help your family choose a Lenten practice.
Habit’s of a Child’s Heart: Raising Your Child with the Spiritual Disciplines by Valerie Hess
Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary
Family Activities for the Forty Days of Lent – http://homelinks.dor.org/homelinks/?LinkServID=BB3CD74B-0F48-7DD6-92FCF5AAC585A924
Your Modern Family Website: https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/10-lent-ideas/
Thoughts from Katie Gehrz, Children and Family Director
As I have been thinking about Lent, I have found it helpful to read the accounts of some of my Catholic friends who are preparing their families for the Lenten journey. I appreciate their honesty and their intentionality around preparing for Lent. Being an introvert, I don’t always share a lot about what I am thinking about. But they inspired me to write my own thoughts on Lent and my own preparations. This account is not meant to make you feel guilty or that you are not doing enough, like some posts of social media make us feel. Instead it’s meant to make you pause for a moment and think about what God is calling you to do this Lenten season.
This year I am boldly choosing a spiritual discipline to practice with my children. I don’t normally commit to embracing a spiritual discipline, because I tend to fall short on my expectations when I challenge myself with a 40-day goal. But this year, I am putting it in writing, and even if I fall short of what I expect, I am going to be mindful of what God is calling me to do this Lent: practice simplicity.
Recently, my children and I had an entire afternoon and evening that was unscheduled. This is a rarity in our household. While I took time to purge and recycle the growing number of papers and random stuff that has accumulated in our home to decrease my mental clutter, my children spent time choosing activities to fill their afternoon. What I found surprising was the quiet. They chose quiet. For an hour in my house there was not music playing, no gaming systems going in the background, and very little discussion or arguing. I asked my children when they remembered the last time they had concentrated, unscheduled time. They both looked at me and said, “I think it was last summer, Mom.” And it’s true. We have been on a hamster wheel of activity after activity in the past year. It made me a recall a haunting conversation that I had last summer with a woman from the Amana Colonies. We were talking about why there had not been any prophets in recent history in this group of people. She very matter-of-factly stated that there were too many distractions in our daily lives. How could anyone hear from God amongst the noise, chaos, and distractions if the world?
So this year, I am choosing simplicity for my Lenten journey, so that instead of getting caught up in all of the distractions of this world. I am going to be intentional about creating time and space to spend with my family and with God. And as I look at the bowl and soap on my kitchen table each morning, I am going to pray, “Speak to me, Lord, your servant is listening.” This is not going to be easy for me, because I like to know what is ahead on the horizon. I expect God is going to reveal Himself in ways that I don’t necessarily want to see or hear and in the midst of me finding simplicity there will be chaos. But the water standing in the bowl will remind me once again that I am not alone. I have a Servant King, who is going to walk each and every step with me on this journey. Soli deo Gloria.