Melanie here from the What’s in the Bible? team! I don’t usually blog on these kinds of topics (mine are more along the lines of product updates and other such things), but I wanted to take the opportunity on this Ash Wednesday to ponder the practice of Lent … particularly, the practice of Lent in community and family.
I’m married, but no kiddos yet for me and my husband of 18 months. We are, however, going to practice Lent together for the first time this year. We’ve made a joint commitment to fast from meat for the next 40 days and we are excited to journey in the abstention together.
As we started to discuss it, I realized just how childlike my approach to Lent really is. My faith tradition growing up was not one that practiced Lent, and so this is really my first dive into fasting … and to fast for 40 days will be quite the challenge! We don’t eat meat a whole lot to begin with – 3 nights a week on average, at best – but it will still be difficult.
I’ve been scrambling around trying to find vegetarian replacements for some of our favorites, but it struck me that Lent really isn’t about that … it’s not about “replacing” one thing we love with substitutes for 40 days. It’s not about using Lent as an excuse to get rid of our bad habits either – giving up sweets for the sake of losing weight, for example, misses the point. What is the point, then? To sacrifice, to remind ourselves of God’s provision and grace in our own lives … and then to celebrate at the Sabbath table and on Easter Sunday in a way that reminds us of a time we have yet to know – when the new Kingdom has come and our days are all spent rejoicing and feasting with our King.
So I started researching both for my own sake and also for yours … how do you share Lent as a family? How do you explain it to your children – or in our case, many of our friends and family members? I am so anxious to start the journey that so many brothers and sisters in Christ have done in the past and will do together for the next several weeks, as we wait in anticipation to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior.
This is a great resources for families looking to engage more with the Church Year. It has a fantastic section on Lent, explaining it this way:
“Lent is a forty-day period before Easter when we prepare ourselves. During that time, we remember Christ and the change he made in the world, and we try to better ourselves as followers of Christ. Many people follow the custom of “giving up” something for Lent to remind them of Christ’s suffering.”
Lent started as a way to remember Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert. Many traditions interpret Lent in different ways – some say to only abstain on Fridays during the Lenten season, others say all 40 days. Some say you don’t have to abstain, but you can add a spiritual discipline or activity (prayer, worship, tithing, service to others) into your daily routine instead.
As you prepare for Lent as a family, what are some of your favorite traditions? How do you involve your children?
If you are like me and are new to Lent, here are some great family resources online for you to explore and some great activities to do as a family!
You can follow Melanie on twitter @melanie_rainer. She blogs regularly at Grace for the Table.