Christians worldwide will observe Ash Wednesday this week, kicking off a season we call Lent. If you’ve spent any time around church in your life, you’ve no doubt heard of this season.
What is Lent?
Lent is a season on the church calendar that stretches forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Traditionally Lent is treated as a time to reflect, repent, and prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter and Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
And while the season of Lent doesn’t actually appear in scripture, it doesn’t mean it’s not founded on biblical principles. First, let’s start with forty days. The number forty is of profound significance in the bible. If you’ll recall, it’s the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai and Jesus spent in the wilderness. In both of these circumstances, both Moses and Jesus were fasting during this prayer time. This is why many believers will fast during Lent, and where the idea came from to give something up during this time.
You don’t have to just fast from food during Lent. Although many families do choose to give up food, particularly meat. Meat represents the flesh. Jesus sacrificed his flesh on Good Friday. Therefore some believe the abstinence from meat honors the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. But you can instead choose to give up an activity like social media, television, or watching sports.
The whole purpose of fasting, or giving something up, isn’t so we are sad or can brag about our accomplishment of fasting. It’s so we have more room to pursue God in our lives. In essence, the fasting portion of Lent means removing something to make room for the ONE thing… God. It means taking away a distraction or making more room in our lives so we can pursue God’s goodness.
Check out this video from our friends at Coram Deo Kids, where they explain all your kids need to know about Lent.
8 Simple Ways to Celebrate Lent with Your Family
There are many ways to celebrate the season of Lent and make it meaningful for your family. Here are a few mom-approved favorites.
- Read a Lenten Devotional as a family. This year our family is starting The Way to the Savior: A Family Easter Devotional by Abbey Land. It’s 40 days of devotions we can read and pursue together. We also love Countdown to Easter – Daily Lenten Devotionals for Children by Ruth Geisler, available as a Kindle e-book that you can start today with your family. And many families enjoy this interactive devotion – A Jesus Easter: Explore God’s Amazing Rescue Plan – available in print or e-book.
- Meditate on God’s word. This is a time to slow down and connect with God. Choose a few verses you and your family can memorize and grow deeper with during this time.
- Ask God to reveal your hidden sins. As a family, write them on slips of paper, confessing each as you write. Acknowledge the gravity of your sins, then burn the pieces in a jar and declare Christ’s forgiveness over your life (1 John 1:9-10). Crush the ashes and mark ash crosses on your wrists or forehead to remember that Jesus bore your sins on the cross. Pour a little oil on a paper towel and wipe the crosses, reading Isaiah 61:1-3.
- Sacrifice something for 40 days. Talk with your family about something you can give up during Lent. It could be something tangible, like candy, or it could be not going out to eat and then using that money for charitable purposes instead. Get creative and pray over your choice as a family. Sacrificing for Lent isn’t about proving how holy you are — it’s about practicing the denial of self and taking up the cross to follow Jesus.
- Take this opportunity to show hospitality. God reached down to us through Christ, so we can take the chance to reach out to others and show them the love of Jesus! Take a meal to a sick family, or send a card to a loved one for no reason at all.
- Focus on others. This goes along with number five. Help your kids get involved and talk with them about how they can help your community, small group, family, friends, and more.
- Plant a resurrection garden. This idea is so fun, and we have yet to do it for the first time. It’s just a beautiful way to slow down your mind and those of your kids and focus on Christ.
- Have more than just Easter Eggs. Prepare to meaningfully celebrate Easter by purchasing resurrection eggs and completing the activities included in the egg carton.