Horizons Church
Saturday, June 24, 2017
When it comes to families with children celebrating events in the Christian calendar, few would put Lent at the top of the list. It’s easy to celebrate Jesus’ coming as a baby with Christmas and Advent, especially with the giving and receiving of gifts. There is anticipation that comes with celebrating Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning. And there is one element that is common to both holidays that appeals especially to kids: candy!
However, the season of Lent – the 40 days (excluding Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday – is overlooked by most families today. And it’s not hard to understand why. Lent is a period of time when Christians reflect on the suffering that Jesus endured on the cross. It is a time to remember that Jesus died, that he gave up his own life for ours. But despite the differences between Lent and other holidays, observance of Lent can be a meaningful experience, even for families with children.
Here are some ideas for how you can use this season to teach your children about Jesus and what he has done and is doing in all of us. These revolve around the three disciplines commonly practiced during the Lenten season: fasting, praying and giving.

The practice most often associated with Lent is fasting. Fasting during Lent is a way for followers of Jesus to identify with him in his suffering. Although fasting typically involves abstaining from all or some kinds of food, people can also decide to abstain from something else that is meaningful to them. For example, maybe you and your children could fast from watching TV or playing a favorite video game. Make a commitment to do this as a family so that each family member can encourage each other in what they’ve given up. Make sure to remind your children, however, that we are choosing to give these things up to identify with what Jesus gave up – his own life for us.

Another discipline practiced during Lent is an increased emphasis on prayer. More regular Bible reading is also common. Perhaps you can commit to read a passage of the Bible together as a family. For instance, praying a Psalm each day is a great way to begin experiencing the Bible together as a family. These readings can be particularly helpful for younger children if it is read from a children’s Bible story book. Some parents hesitate to read the Bible with their kids because they feel they don’t know enough to teach their kids. However, the point isn’t so much about teaching as it is about experiencing the story together. Pray together about whatever you may have learned from the passage. There is great value in reading the Bible and praying on your own. Done in the presence of other members of the family ,it will have an even greater benefit of strengthening the bond between parents and children.

Giving special gifts to those in need (sometimes called “alms giving”) is yet another discipline traditionally associated with the Lenten season. Try having your kids go without buying something they would normally buy during the week and have them save that money in order to give it away. Brainstorm with your kids ways you can give as an expression of the gifts we receive from Jesus. Have a family meeting to talk about some of the needs in the community and how they can contribute. Remind your children that, because of the generosity that God has shown us in Jesus, we can be generous as well.
These are simply suggestions. There are many other practices that can also make this 40-day period a meaningful family experience. No matter how you choose to practice, the goal is to journey together toward the joy of the resurrected Jesus on Easter Sunday.
We encourage you to fast from February 18 – April 5.  Please contact one of the pastors if you have any questions.