By Shelly Lemons
As we continue to navigate the tricky season of COVID we are going to be doing something very special at Friedens through the Lenten season. As we journey from Ash Wednesday until Easter we will have some unique opportunities for families to learn and grow as a family as we anticipate Easter.
Before I get too far, perhaps I should define the term “Lent.” Lent is a season of preparation for Easter. Liturgical churches observe this season from Ash Wednesday (Feb 17th) until Easter Sunday (April 4th). The season is often referred to as being 40 days, though in reality it is 47. The 40 days doesn’t include Sundays. The word Lent actually comes from the Old English word “lencten” which translates as “spring.” Further research points to Latin roots where Lent is derived from “llenta” which means continues moving and does not stop. One further definition from several European languages is slow! Each of these definitions helps to gain understanding of this season which takes place each spring when things are growing and not stopping and calls us as humans to slow down and ponder the sacrifices of Jesus.
Many people might be familiar with Catholic observances of Lent which often including “giving up” something and fasting from meat on Fridays. At Friedens we will leave the specifics of this season up to each family. Perhaps as a family you will decide to forgo some special pleasure to bring more of a focus on the season. You might choose to skip a weekly treat and instead save that money to give to an organization that points people to Jesus or bless one of our missionary families. You may decide to give up some free time to do family devotions!
During this Lenten season we will have three main options for family discipleship. We hope and pray that your family is interested in joining us in one of these options. Please let me know which option your family is choosing. Some families (mine included) may choose to do more than one option. In addition to the three options listed below, the Lent packs will have coloring sheets, activity sheets, games and activities for the Lenten season. These can be done at any time throughout the Lenten season.
1. Purchase Amon’s Adventure and read it as a family. Amon’s Adventure is written by the same author as Ishtar’s Odyssey and is written the same way. This is a great book for elementary, middle school, and high school children. Some of the content may be intense or graphic for younger children. Unlike Ishtar’s Odyssey, this book has 20 readings to be done in the 40 days leading up to Palm Sunday and then one reading for each day of “Holy Week.” This will allow families to read every other day or several days in a row and then take several days off. The chapters are a bit longer than the Advent book.
2. Sign up for “Easter Family Devotions” by Jennifer Tucker. Jennifer has created a 14 day journey to Easter with devotions and ornament shapes for families to color and cut out and place on an optional Easter tree. Jennifer also has optional crafts and family activities relating to the devotional. She has designed it to be done daily for the two weeks leading up to Easter. We are suggesting that you do a couple devotions a week each week of Lent. This family devotional is great for all ages. You are reading from Scripture each day and answering some basic questions along with an activity. This can be a wonderful option for preschoolers! Friedens would be happy to provide you with this printed devotional pack including the ornament pages on cardstock. If you would like this option, please let me know as soon as possible so we can include a copy in your next Children’s Ministry packet.
3. Read the stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible six days a week through Lent. A reading plan and a “Pathway to Easter” guide will be provided in every Lent pack. You will need a Jesus Storybook Bible in order to do this plan. This plan is geared towards preschool and elementary aged children. While this doesn’t introduce new content like options 1 and 2, it does provide a great understanding of the Biblical storyline leading up to Easter and will help young children connect all the stories together.
Lent packs will be available for pick-up Feb 1-4 and will be delivered Feb 5-6. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which is February 17th. There are two Sundays before February 17th. During these two weeks we will have two stand-alone lessons. February 7th will focus on missions and February 14th will focus on love. These lessons will have videos, stories, and projects much like the weekly lessons. We will also have a verse that connects to the lesson, which families can memorize during each of these weeks.
We are pausing Gospel Story lessons from February through Easter. We have just 7 weeks left of Old Testament stories and we have 7 weeks of class between Easter and summer break. It will be ideal to start next fall with the New Testament.
We will also pause iGnite during Lent so families can focus one of the devotional options.
Please let me know as soon as possible if your family would like the optional Easter Devotional. Please remember to order Amon’s Adventure if your family plans to read it. February 17th will be here soon!