This year Lent beings on February 14 with Ash Wednesday. It seems that often Lent is a more difficult season to move through then Advent. Lent is a season that invites us to deeper prayer and sacrifice. It invites us to reflect and repent. And it certainly is a more solemn time then Advent. Yet, the season of Lent can be such a meaningful opportunity for families and churches to engage in because lent offers the opportunity to reflect on the beautiful grace that comes in repentance. I read a sentence once that shifted my outlook completely.
LENT IS LOVE
If we sacrifice, or give up something for lent, if we spend more time in deeper prayer, if we find special ways to serve or engage in charity work and we do all of this in the mindset of love how sweet the experience is.
When I first saw that Ash Wednesday happened to also be Valentine’s Day, my first thought was, I wonder how many people won’t give up chocolate for lent this year?! And for those whose practice is to fast on Ash Wednesday, I also wondered what that might mean for Valentine’s celebrations. But as I have reflected on the statement Lent is Love, I am really glad that Lent begins on Valentine’s Day and for me it has inspired me to move through the season of Lent in a fresh way. Perhaps you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day honouring an early saint or maybe you see it as a day to celebrate romantic love. I think there is beauty in both those ways of acknowledging the day.
I wonder if this year Valentine’s Day might inspire you to begin the season of Lent in Love. I am not yet sure if there is a tangible item that I will set aside to ‘fast’ from but one thing I do know is I am going to move through this season in love. The devotional I have chosen to go through this Lent is God’s Love Letters to You: A 40 Day Devotional Experience by Larry Crabb. It is based on his book 66 Love Letters in which Larry moves through each book of the Bible reflecting on what God might be saying to him. It is a beautiful, conversational reflection on each book of the Bible and how God may be personally communicating his love for you.
There are also some ways as a family we will move through the season of lent with our children. Last year I discovered The Jesus Tree. Perhaps you are familiar with the Advent practice called the Jesse Tree? I really enjoy this practice and have been familiar with it for several years but I had never heard of the Jesus Tree until last year. It is very similar in concept, however whereas the Jesse Tree moves through the stories of the ancestors of Jesus during Advent, the Jesse Tree moves through the events of Jesus life. I discovered this downloadable resource and we moved through it last year with our then 2.5 year old.
It was such a special time and I am excited to move through it again this year. This resource was originally created using Scriptures from the gospel of Matthew. The creator has updated the readings this year to include readings from the gospel of John as well. If you purchase the resource you will receive both options in the download. And it costs less then $10!
I recently discovered a new Jesus Tree resource created by Anna Sklar and illustrated by our own Canadian Baptist, Ann-Margret Hovsepian. She has created 3 resources: A book of 48 Colouring Pages with stories for Lent, a book of 48 Family Devotions for Lent, and a book of 48 ornaments for Lent with family devotions and images to colour. I am looking forward to exploring this resource too. More details and how to order are on her webpage.
There are many ideas for moving through the season of Lent in meaningful ways as a family. In my next post I will highlight some more ideas.