(This post is actually a pre-reprint of the guide we will hand out to our Hope Church family this weekend. I figured I’d share it here as well. Some of these ideas come from other people; we’ve just collected them over the years. No plagiarism is intended. Also, if you want to take this and adapt it for your family or church congregation, feel free. I will post our Matthew reading plan here soon as well.)
Lent is here again. For some of us, it is a practice we have kept for most of our lives. For others, this could be the first time you have been in a church that celebrates the Christian calendar and its seasons. If that is you, Lent is a wonderful introduction to the calendar and why we choose to use these seasons to shape our community. We believe that the practices of Lent transform us most when we practice them together, so this guide is written to help you understand the season and to offer some ways to practice it with your friends and family.
Lent is like a season of spring cleaning for our hearts. We make room for God to reveal to us the true depth of the impact of sin in our lives, but also make room for God to transform our lives through the work of the cross and the resurrection. We need God to continue to change us, that we might be his hands and feet for the world around us. In Lent, we welcome this change through simple practices like prayer, Scripture reading, fasting and giving.Here are some practical ways we’d encourage you to practice Lent as a family, and through these practices, to welcome change into your lives:
Pray the Lord’s prayer together each day. Start off your day together with this prayer from the book of Matthew:
Our Father in heaven- hallowed be your name!
Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Make an “I’m sorry” jar. Label a jar with the words, “I’m sorry”. During the season of Lent, when you do something wrong, you write it down on a piece of paper and pray for forgiveness, then place the paper in the jar. This can be a great opportunity to talk about the cross and the forgiveness Jesus offers us.
Read through Matthew together. Using our bookmarks, you and your friends and family can read along through the gospel of Matthew together. Take time to read some or all of the passage aloud together, then discuss what you’ve heard. Pay special attention to what the reading teaches us about who Jesus is and what it means to follow him.
Eat a simple meal together. Fasting can be an intimidating practice, especially for kids. We suggest that you use simplicity as a way of teaching your family about fasting. Have one dinner each week where you have only rice and beans (or tortilla and beans, or a simple soup, or two other simple foods). Take time during that meal to talk about how you can help people who don’t have much to eat in your area. Pray for Open Hands Food Pantry, Jefferson Street Mission and Access Food Kitchen in our area as they help feed those in need.
No Technology Tuesdays. Another type of fasting you can do together involves unplugging for the day. Turn off TV’s, computers, and cell phones for the day, or at least for the part of your day you spend together. Take time to play games together and encourage one another. Also, try to read the daily Scripture readings together and to talk about Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Save up to bless others. One long-standing tradition during Lent is giving to those in need. Take time to talk about some of the groups we work with regularly at Hope (like the orphanages in Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti and Kenya, or folks in Appalachia that we serve through Meridzo), and brainstorm about ways you can bless them during Lent. Maybe there are even sacrifices you can make as a family to raise money. Once you save up that money, pray over it together and give it away. Contact our office if you need more information on how to give to these organizations.
Spring Cleaning for Others. Find a weekend and give your house a deep clean. While you’re cleaning, look for toys and other items that could be a blessing to others. Host a garage sale and give the sales to missions, or donate those items to Goodwill or another local thrift store.
Look for practical ways to involve the whole family in the practices of prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, and giving this Lent season. We know Jesus can transform our hearts more and more each day. Join us as we make room for that kind of change through simple, everyday practices this Lent!Comments