A 40 Day Journey:: Celebrating Lent Together as a Family

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Today is Ash Wednesday, and for Christians around the world, it marks the beginning of the 40-day journey of Lent. These days are a time Christians remember Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before his ministry began. Christians use this time to prepare for Easter’s celebration by observing practices of fasting, repentance, and spiritual disciplines designed to help them reflect on their faith and relationship with God.

 

And if you think that Lent is only for the devote or observed only by certain denominations, think again! Just as we prepare for Christmas through the season of Advent, it makes perfect sense for us also to set aside time each year to prepare for two of the most important days on the Christian calendar, Good Friday {the day we remember Christ’s crucifixion} and Easter Sunday.

While many adults will participate in these various practices, it’s hard to mark and celebrate this period with children. If you have children or teens, observing this season should not be stressful and does not require a seminary degree to make it meaningful. Even if your family is not particularly religious or not practicing Christians, most ideas can be modified to be time for your family to be together and focus on your relationships with each other.

Ways to Celebrate Lent with Your Family.

Attend a Lenten Service.
Even amid COVID, churches throughout the Houston area will be holding services throughout Lent. Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday are all days that include special services for many churches. These are a fantastic way to walk through the season of Lent as a family and when your children see you making them a priority in your faith journey, they will see the importance of making it a part of theirs.

Family Devotional or Scripture Reading.
Whether you do devotions once a week or every day, making it interactive and fun ensures children and teens’ involvement. Advent calendars are a fun way to countdown the days leading to Christmas, so why not incorporate that activity during Lent. Many scripture guides cover various themes of Lent; a quick internet search will help you find one that fits your family’s faith and need. This Lenten calendar provides visuals, is interactive, and allows for meaningful scripture readings.

Your family can also pick a book of the Bible; one gospel is a great place to focus during Lent and read it throughout the 40 days. There are many Bibles geared towards specific ages and reading levels. Some personal favorites are the Jesus Storytime Bible and the Action Bible

If your family is not religious, instead of having a Lent calendar focusing on scripture, create a calendar that charts times you meditated together or read as a family. Both are ways that your family can center and focus on time spent with each other without distractions of screens or devices.

Give up Something Together.
One tenant of Lent is the biblical practice of fasting. While this practice might seem scary, the idea is to give up something to help remember and draw closer to Jesus during Lent. Many think of fasting and think of withholding food or drink, but it has become the norm to fast from something that you do or spend money on.

With children, this can be tricky, especially younger children. However, there are various ways you can fast together this Lenten season. Some ideas are to give up watching tv after school or fast from eating out. Another idea for the 40 days of Lent is to collect 40 items to donate. This can be canned food, clothing, books, or movies. The idea is for every day of fasting or when it seems hard, you focus instead on God.

This is easy to do even if your family is religious or not. Instead of focusing on faith and religion as the days go by and the fasting gets harder, focus on each other and your relationships.

Volunteer as a Family.
A wonderful way to connect during Lent is to volunteer. Now, this might be tricky during COVID, but volunteering and helping others is an excellent way for families to see how blessed they are and understand the importance of helping and serving others. Maybe you can volunteer to make blankets for the local homeless shelter or sort food at a food pantry. You might support your local school or a non-profit that is close to your family’s hearts. There are many ways to give still, which is a great way for your family to focus on each other and others.

Add an Act of Kindness.
Completing acts of kindness can be things that your family plans out in advance or random acts that happen spontaneously. These acts are designed to bring a smile to someone’s face and brighten their day. This post is a great resource for any family looking for ways to brighten the day of others.

These avenues are by no means the only ways your family can be mindful during Lent, but they are a start. The idea is to focus on things that work best for your family, so even if Lent is a long-standing family tradition or something your family has never participated in, there are many ways to experiencing this season together.


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Whitney P. was born and raised in the Houston area, the third oldest of six children. She grew up in Waller and after high school she attended and graduated from Texas A&M University earning a degree in Communications and Political Science. She met her husband Tim while at Texas A&M and after college, Whitney worked as the Marketing and Communications Director for a private school in Austin before returning to Houston in 2008 to begin working as a corporate fundraiser for non-profits for many years before feeling the call into fulltime ordained ministry. Whitney resides in Katy and is an Associate Pastor at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church overseeing their Care and Special Needs ministries. Whitney and Tim adopted their first child Jase {March 2013} in 2013, and he is living his best life committed to becoming a paleontologist when older and spreading dinosaur facts to all who will listen. Whitney and Tim are in the processing of pursuing adoption again to expand their family. Besides her work and spending time with her family, Whitney’s greatest passions are advocating for inclusion for all people, reading anything she can get her hands on, discussing and celebrating anything related to Harry Potter, traveling near and far, kickboxing and training for half-marathons. Whitney can be found on Facebook @whitneypeper, on Instagram @wpeper, and has a personal blog Our Color Filled Life.

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