03 March 2014

Celebrating Lent as a family: visual reminders

Worship Space
For us, celebrating Lent is as much about creating visual signals to pause and worship as anything else.You may wish to create your own space for contemplation or observation.  A purple cloth on a table, a chair with a Bible and a journal… these things communicate that there is something different about this time, something special.  You may want to decorate differently than you do the rest of the year.  Adding pictures or books in a special basket for little ones to enjoy incorporates them into the space.  This space doesn’t have to be complicated.  Rocks, wood, a nail, a small cross…things that children can touch and hold makes a difference in their understanding of the Jesus story!
Lenten wreath or spiral
Just as an Advent wreath helps to count the days or weeks to Christmas in a very visible, tactile, sense-engaging way, so do candles in some form help to create anticipation during Lent.  A weekly countdown should include 6 candles.  A daily countdown would need 40 (if Sundays are not included).  A Lenten cross can be made from wood, or can simply be a poster board cross, onto which candles in votive holders are set. Simple wreaths are also available at many Christian bookstores or online (try Catholic bookstores).  An Advent to Lent spiral is an especially beautiful way to remember the days.

Repentance box

A repentance box is a very visible reminder of God’s pardon for us.  Mistakes, errors and sins are written on slips of paper and put in the box.  On Good Friday, the pieces of paper can be nailed to the cross.  Or, another option is to write the word “FORGIVEN” on each slip of paper and throw them away or burn the pieces.  Or, a parent may wish to empty the box so it can be presented on Easter morning.
"Dust" bowl

A bowl with flour in it is a tactile way to remember that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return." Playing in the dust is a great way to redirect an older child (or adult) by asking them to draw something representing their sins in the dust and then erase it. We have used the flour bowl in our "quiet chair" area and in the past have made it available to the younger kids only with supervision. If the thought of setting a bowl of flour out for the kids to turn into a massive mess gives you the heebie-jeebies, forget this idea. But if you are a little enthralled, another great take on this can be found at this link.
Forced blooms
A beautiful way to recognize new life is to cut some branches from a flowering bush such as forsythia or a cherry tree, place in water and allow the branches to open in time.  These, inevitably, will open before Easter.  If you want to control the bloom, you may wish to use barren branches and then replace them with flowering branches at Easter.
Jesus Tree
Similar to a Jesse Tree at Advent, a Jesus tree is a lovely way to contemplate Jesus’ way to the cross by using scripture and art to tell the story.  You can make your own versions, but an excellent free (and gorgeous) version is available at Holy Experience from Ann Voskamp

Do you have any ideas for visual reminders that can help a family worship during Lent?

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