Monday, February 4, 2013

Preparing for Lent/40 Days

Our Advent Jesse Tree has been SO successful* that I've always wanted to repeat it in some way during the weeks leading up to Easter. I need something visual, especially for the children; something catechetical so we're learning and growing, not bored; something structured so we're not just jumping around without purpose; and something enjoyable that creates memories our whole family looks forward to even while it's focused on sacrifice and repentance. This year I'm going to focus on various humans who interacted with Jesus while He walked this earth. Whether they lived with Him and knew Him for years or encountered Him for only a moment, each one was changed and has a lesson we can learn for our own lives.
Last year I made a felt wall hanging with a pocket for each of the 40 days. Each day we will write down a sacrifice we plan to make and tuck it into the day's pocket. Children need something visual, so some other ideas to make the Lenten journey visual are:
Made by Cristin Luea
  • posterboard marked off like a calendar with 40 squares
  • a glass jar, cup, or vase or a bowl filled each day with one more button, bead, or rock
  • outline the 40 days on a regular calendar with purple or blue marker
  • forsythia or dead branches set in a vase with the paper hearts (see below) tied on each day with string
  • for private or semi-private sacrifices, fold paper squares or paper hearts and drop each day into an opaque container
  • my friend Cristin made this chart for her family, numbering 46 to include Sundays as well as weekdays and Saturdays between Ash Wednesday and Easter. If you would like to use it, print a copy for your family or for each child and cross off one stepping stone each day beginning Feb. 22.
Each day in our family we will write down or draw the sacrifice we are planning to make that day on a paper heart and tuck it into the felt calendar pocket. My husband and I usually choose at least one sacrifice for the whole season, but just one whole day of a sacrifice for a young child is worth a year for an adult, so this is my system to break it into more comprehensible portions for our children. One of my primary goals this year is to teach our children why we choose to make sacrifices, at least at the preschool/kindergarten level.

*Successful meaning: Children remember and anticipate it throughout the year, it significantly improves our ability to focus on Christ's birth at Christmastime, our whole family grows in our understanding of God's work throughout history in preparing for the Messiah, and it helps us in creating a family culture centered on the Lord.
Linked with Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday

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