By Njideka Eze
When we celebrate Lent as a family, it’s so important that we do not focus simply on what we’re giving up, but also focus on giving glory to God and filling ourselves with what we need most: God’s love, truth and presence in our lives.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent is meant to be a season of pondering and preparation, leading up to Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection. It is an incredible opportunity to bring your family together and bond as you focus your hearts on what is most important. Whatever ages your kids are, there are simple, fun ways to observe Lent together as a family.
WHY OBSERVE LENT?
Lent is the 40 days period of prayer, penance, almsgiving and other spiritual endeavours. In the same way Jesus went into the desert for 40 days of fasting and prayer in preparation for his public ministry, Lent is a time that we, as followers of Christ, set aside 40 days to ponder on the passion of Christ, participate in his sufferings, and through our prayer, fasting and almsgiving prepare our hearts for the transforming effect of the salvific work of Christ through the Lenten season into the Easter. It’s an invitation into deeper relationship with our Creator.
HOW DO WE OBSERVE LENT AS A FAMILY?
As we prepare our hearts during the Lenten period, here are some ideas of things you can give up and things you can add to make Lent a meaningful experience for your whole family.
Consider choosing at least one of each. Get your whole family involved! Don’t force a fast on your kids (or spouse), that will only make them grumpy. Instead, invite them into the bigger picture of what Lent is and why we observe it.
Take some time to talk, as a family, about Jesus and his sacrifice for us. Dialogue about how he chose to spend 40 days preparing for what God had in store for him. Ask your kids what ideas they have for something they might be willing to give up during Lent and some creative ideas they have for focusing their heart on Jesus in preparation for what he has in store for them. My ten year old daughter told me she wants us to eat only fish and eggs this lent, in other word, no meat.
Bottom of Form
THINGS TO GIVE UP (FASTING):
- A TYPE OF FOOD (DAILY OR WEEKLY)
You may not really do a full fast with your kids, but you can choose a type of food, like dessert or chips or candy or something that is not vital to their nutrition needs. In the Catholic tradition, we fast on meat on Fridays during Lent. Consider doing a once a week fast, such as a vegetarian Monday or no sweets on Fridays.
- . NEGATIVITY
Whether that’s complaining, arguing, gossiping, or any form of negativity you can think of, this is a great choice to help your family shift their focus to kindness and gratitude as we remember Jesus and choose to become more like him. You can even do a kindness challenge. If anyone lets some negativity slip out, agree as a family that you will replace it with TWO positive comments. I give out Stars to my children when they do dome acts of kindness. We calculate the number of stars each person has at the end of the week and is rewarded
- STUFF (TOYS, CLOTHES, HOUSEHOLD ITEMS)
Another great option is to donate items you own to someone in need or to a local charity. Encourage your whole family to donate toys, clothes, and other items. You can even do 40 items in 40 days, or some people do 40 Bags in 40 days. Whatever you think is workable for you. This is a great opportunity to practice gratitude as well. Share as a family what you’re thankful for.
- SCREEN TIME
We all know that screens can be a major distraction from what’s truly important. Lent is a great time to practice restraint in these areas and invite God to transform our hearts and minds. Instead of just restricting screen time for the sake of it, consider making a commitment as a family to go without screens during a certain time of the day or week and replace it with something that focuses on loving God or people. Choose to use that time to read the Bible or worship as a family. Or you could spend time volunteering or blessing others in some way.
THINGS TO ADD (CONNECTING WITH GOD)
- FAMILY WORSHIP OR DEVOTIONAL TIME
You can choose to do 10 minutes a day or an hour once a week, one of the best things you can do with your family during Lent is to spend time with God together! You can do a time of worship, read the Bible together, talk about Jesus, share testimonies, pray together, or a combination of all of the above! Don’t get stuck in a box thinking that spending time with God can only look one way. He wants to connect with your family!
- MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE
When Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, he was tempted by the Devil in his weakest moments. And what was his response? Scripture. The memorization of God’s Word is such a powerful tool and a great way to fill your family with truth during Lent. Commit, as a family, to memorize one Scripture verse per week during the 6 weeks of Lent
Bottom of Form
- BLESS OTHERS
One of the best ways to align our hearts with God’s heart is to do what he would do: love others. Choose to bless others in creative ways during the Lenten season as a family. Whatever you choose to do this Lenten season, remember that it’s not just about giving things up. It’s so much bigger than that. It’s about remembering the sacrifice Jesus made so that we could be completely set free, fully loved and forgiven, and welcomed into eternity as part of the family of God.
Lent is an incredible invitation to set aside distractions and focus our hearts on what’s most important. Invite your whole family to experience God’s love and presence and draw closer to Him this Lenten season.
Lets Journey with the Lord these 40 days