What is Lent?
Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting before he was tempted by the devil and was then baptized by his cousin John the Baptist. His baptism was the ritual that started his ministry on earth. Lent is the preparation for Easter.
When is Lent?
Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday and goes for 40 days. If you look at the calendar you will see that it is actually 46 days, because Sundays are not considered part of the 40 days of Lent.
What is Shrove Tuesday?
Pancake Day this is mostly celebrated in England the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is also known as Shrove Tuesday the last day of feasting before Lent starts. I know of churches who sometimes celebrate with a pancake dinner on Shrove Tuesday.
How to Tell Children About Lent
Get a children’s Bible and read them the stories of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness, being tempted and then baptized all as preparation for starting his ministry. Lent is when we commemorate Jesus fasting in preparation for starting his ministry. You might have a conversation about how some of the things we do prepare us for other things. Like learning our letters prepares us to read or if your children are learning to play an instrument or sport there is much preparation that goes into playing an instrument or sport well.
Lenten Bible Studies for Families
Lent is a great time to start a family devotion or Bible study time. One of the easiest ways to start a family devotional time is to use a children’s Bible or a children’s Bible storybook and read the stories to your children. Depending on the age of your children you can talk about what it might be like to be present when the story means and then talk about what meaning can we take form the story about our lives today.
By the time your children are in fifth or sixth grade, you can read stories directly from the Bible. For Lent, a good place to start is with One of the gospels Matthew, Mark, or Luke. These are the easiest to understand and written with many stories about the life of Jesus. Since Lent is preparation for Easter, the end of Jesus life on earth it is fitting to study about Jesus during Lent.
If your children have difficulty sitting and just listening they could draw a picture about the story you read.
Ideas for Adults to Celebrate Lent
Traditionally Catholics and sometimes other Christians have given something up for Lent like a luxury or special treat. Another option is to spend time in activities that will strengthen you spiritually like prayer, Bible reading or devotions.
What to give up for Lent?
Traditionally Christians gave up something for lent symbolizing Jesus fasting. Some Catholics still don’t eat meat on Fridays.
- Processed food
- Buying anything except necessary food
- Social Media
What to add for Lent
You could also add something during lent that strengthens your spiritual life. Some things to add:
- Family devotion time’
- Individual devotion time
- Lectio Divina-a meditative reading of the Bible. This is an interesting variation on family devotion time if your children are middle school age or older.
- Family service project
Adult Lenten Devotional Readings
Joan Chittister, Richard Rohr, and Pricilla Shirer are three of my favorite spiritual writers. Joan Chittister is a nun. Richard Rohr is a priest and Pricilla Shirer has a nondenominational background and is the mother of 3 boys.
Click on the books below to learn more about them.
Joan Chittister often writes about overcoming struggle. I have done several of her meditative devotions when she uses meditations on art to help you grow spiritually and to see God in the ordinary.
I’ve read Richard Rohr’s book Everything Belongs several times. It has been helpful to make meaning out of suffering, pain and other difficulties.
It was hard for me to choose only one of Pricilla Shirer’s books. I chose this Bible study, because it is one to read if you feel like God is silent and your are looking for guidence.
Whatever activity you choose the important things are to do something to recognize Lent and teach your children the meaning of Lent. That way your children will realize Easter is about more than chocolate, eggs, and the Easter bunny.