Growing up, Advent and Lent were seasons that not just my church but my family observed. Both were times of anticipation and waiting. Both were times of drawing closer to the manger and to the cross. Both were opportunities my parents used to start intentional conversations about the Gospel.
Lent in many ways has gotten a bad wrap. The idea of giving something up for the 40+ days before Easter in some ways has become highly ritualistic and unattached from what the season really is about. People abstain from certain foods or vices with a desire not to draw closer to God, but to lose weight or be a better person. Others attempt to sacrifice because of a desire to win the approval of man or from a distorted view of obligation. On the other extreme, Easter in many ways has become a holiday for consumers. Jelly beans, eggs, and bunnies encourage us to bypass the crucifixion and instead focus on cultural icons tied more closely to spring than anything else.
I’ve ran across several sites and blogs that have shared some great ideas for ways you can prepare your family for this season intentionally.
Tell the Easter Story with a Play Dough Mountain
A great idea for families with younger children, this blog post from Desiring God gives children the opportunity to retell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection with play dough and pipe cleaners.
Use this fun, tasty recipe to tell the Easter story. The link includes the recipe along with a list of things to say/share as you cook together.
Lent Devotional from The Village Church
While this may be a little too extensive to do with young children, it’s what I’m currently working through to prepare my heart as an individual. Each week includes a prayer from Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions to meditate on, selected scripture with a place to reflect, and ideas on things to fast from/how best to go about this process in a Biblical way. It also opens with a great rationale of what Lent is. I’ve copied a snippet of this below:
“Lent is about the gospel. It is a time to narrow the focus of the Church to the work of Christ, in particular His life and death, a season to turn from sin and trust in His atoning work…ent is a reminder that the resurrection only occurred after the crucifixion. Rather than skipping over the ministry and crucifixion of Christ, Lent is a season to prepare ourselves for the joy of Resurrection Sunday as we symbolically enter the sorrow and pain which preceded it.”
What Lent Really Means and Easter Tree Directions
Ann Voskamp writes about her own struggles with Lent along with different things she does with her family to prepare for the season. It closes with a free downloadable devotion and directions on how to make an Easter tree.
Lenten Lights from Noel Piper
Noel Piper guides families through 8 weekly scripture readings with an accompanying brief devotional. Instead of lighting candles as one might do in Advent, she suggests extinguishing candles as a way to physically represent the contrast of light and darkness.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
One of our favorite resources to share with children and families is The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. Pages 280-325 tell the story of Passion Week all the way through Jesus ascending into heaven. Try reading one story a week for six weeks together as a family. You can also watch a video version of Easter morning below.
Celebrating Easter with Kids
This blog post is a collection of links put together by C.J. Maheny’s daughter Nicole on Girl Talk. Throughout the post, she offers many practical, fun ideas for impressing the truth of the Gospel on little hearts during this season.
You can also check out this weekly family devotional through the book of John that I wrote for families with elementary kids in my church. Many of the passages will coincide with the Lent/Easter season.