We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Our Spirit of Lent

There seem to be a number of "takes" on what the spirit of Lent should be, but I believe it comes down to: repentance of our sins, recommitment to spiritual disciplines, and encountering the sufferings of Christ. In other words, reuniting ourselves with the Good Shepherd.

Some idea for infusing your home with the spirit of Lent:
  • Consider setting up a family altar area, if you don't have one. A small table or shelf will do. A simple display of a bible, cross and a candle makes a lovely altar area. You might consider using the church year colors in some way (a piece of cloth, or ribbons). My picture below shows my altar area set up still for Ordinary time, but you get the idea. Use this as a gathering point for family prayer and devotions.

  • Simplify your meals during Lent. While you may already be fasting, it can be beneficial to make a point of offering simple fare during most or just certain days of Lent. Friday is a traditional day for fasting or abstaining from meat, so it might make a good day to offer a simple soup and bread meal. Offer a simple meal on the traditional fast days of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  • Help younger children focus on the Good Shepherd by setting up a quiet corner with some godly play on the Good Shepherd theme. Coloring pages, felt sets, figurines, play sets (PlayMobil and Beulah Enterprises both carry something), and so on can easily be found.

  • Many Protestants eschew the crucifix in favor of the empty cross. But, during Lent, a crucifix may help your family focus on Christ's sufferings. Replace it with an empty cross on Holy Saturday.

  • Tie purple ribbons in various places around the home as a reminder of the season and also a call to prayer. (religious art, perhaps door handles, refrigerator/pantry, and other locations where a prayer reminder seems appropriate)

  • Provide your kids with icon/mosaic/stained glass-style images and coloring pages on Lenten themes. You might try here and here.
  • Give your kids a visual explanation of what Jesus did on the cross - make a Lenten cross. On this cross, they pin their sins over the course of Lent. The sins are removed on Good Friday, but the pins are left in the cross. Then on Easter Sunday, use the same pins to hold flowers on the cross.

  • Offer times of quiet - perhaps daily, but atleast on a regular basis. During these times avoid anything entertainment-oriented (TV, video games, standard radio music). Rather choose some quiet, reflective, spiritual music. I highly recommend this online "station" where you can hear "Classical music for the church".
  • On Good Friday, strip your family altar, drape your cross in black and keep a quiet day as best you can with children. Be ready with lots of quiet activities for them.

Read the rest of the series.

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