Helping Children Wait for Easter

February 24, 2010

A child prayingIt occurs to me that most Christian adults navigate Lent through some pretty serious spiritual practices by reevaluating their lives, rededicating themselves to God, and engaging in often tough disciplines such as daily prayers, personal deprivations, special service projects, and fasting. But can we help children find meaning in such Lenten practices?

Already in stores we see signs of “Easter”…plastic eggs and baskets, stuffed bunnies, candy—all items that can derail a parent’s commitment to making Lent a spiritual journey for everyone in the family. How can we include children in the Lenten preparations for Easter?

In Gateways to Worship, Carolyn C. Brown suggests that we teach children that, “Lent is a time to wait for Easter by finding ways to be closer to God. Purple is the color for both Advent and Lent because in both seasons we wait for the coming of the King. Unlike Advent, Lent includes no special songs, stories or rituals that are obvious to children. Therefore our goals are simply that children recognize Lent as the time we wait for Easter and know its color to be purple. Children are already familiar with a variety of prayers we use in congregational worship and they should be grasping the concept that we can worship and pray at any time and in any place.”

A good prayer focus for your children during Lent is learning the Lord’s Prayer. Read Matthew 6:9-14 and tell the story of the time when Jesus’ friends asked him to teach them how to pray. Each week of Lent you can focus on one line of the prayer. Ask children what they think the words of the prayer mean. Make placemats for your dinner table and write the Lord’s Prayer on it; use the prayer for your mealtime thanks and grace.

Faith at Home advises that “In addition to the typical Lenten activities, which young children will probably not understand fully, enrich your family life during Lent in other ways. Choose activities, stories, and play that highlight things coming to life, or the sparseness and simplicity of the season, or themes of Easter to come. A twig’s green wood underneath a scraped-away outer layer. Budding and blooming plants. A simplified home décor. Quiet evenings enjoying each others’ company without the television. Delicious, simple meals of good soup and bread. Finally, begin to look ahead, in your storytelling, playtime, books, and more, to the great stories of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.”

Keep Lent simple and focused: get close to God and stay close to God…through prayer and simple family activities.

Amen.

Advertisements

Ashes: Finding My Way through Lent

February 17, 2010

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my Lenten practice might be this year. In the past, for the six weeks before Easter, I’ve “given up” Pepsi, chocolate, TV. I’ve done a once-a-week Lenten fast. I’ve practiced “taking on” something, such as extra prayer time, a service project.

This year I’m going to do something different: I am going to commit to 30 minutes a day of complete silence [no books, no music, no TV, no computer, no phone, no visiting] … in order to read scripture and listen to what God is calling me to do in my community.

I am inspired to do this as a Lenten practice by a book by Laurie Beth Jones entitled Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership. In one of her devotionals, she writes about “the call to leadership coming from many directions and in many ways”. She shares that “the Old Testament indicates there three ways we are called: the burning heart, the burning bush, and the burning house”.

David had a burning heart, leading him to go and fight on behalf of his people. Moses experienced the burning bush which called him to lead God’s people to freedom. Esther was faced with a burning house —the Jewish nation which was certainly to be destroyed—and answering God’s call, she risked her life to save it.

Last spring after Easter services, our church burned the palm branches and saved the ashes in a jar for use in this year’s Ash Wednesday worship. The story of God’s people demonstrates that out of the most difficult situations, from the most ordinary people, come leaders who are inspired by their circumstances and who are equipped by God to do the task. When things were “burning”, David found his bravery, Moses found his inspiration, and Esther her courage. From the ashes came great leadership for meaningful missions.

This Lent, marked at the beginning by the ashes from the old palm branches, I make a new commitment to an old practice as I seek to serve God in my town.

What is God calling you to do?

For more information on discerning God’s call on your life, view The LOGOS Ministry’s webinar “Hey You!” available at http://www.logosresources.com/


When Should Children Attend Worship?

October 13, 2009

church-going_to_worshipWhen should children attend worship is a parental choice and parents—and churches who encourage or discourage such attendance—choose for different reasons.

Here are some good reasons for children attending worship:

1. Children learn to pray, to speak to God from their heart, by being with adults who model prayer.
2. Children can experience a time to be silent and present to God; a time to talk to God and to listen to God.
3. Children can hear & feel the power of our love for God as they listen to the words and music of worship.
4. Children learn and experience God’s love in the fellowship within a faith community.
5. Children are introduced to music and dance that expresses the longings of our hearts, the laments of our lives, our praises to God.
6. Children hear the stories of God’s people, and begin to understand that those stories belong to them, too.

What do you think? What would you add to this list?


Morality and Children

April 8, 2009

The thought provoking German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” So when we think about morality and children we cannot think about that apart from ourselves and society. At The LOGOS Ministry, we have a long standing prayer that the lives of children in the world today might be described by the Gospel of Mark 10:14 but we are afraid that their plight is described more by the circumstances that they are surrounded by today. Please watch this and join us in the prayer for children.

Won’t you also consider helping us change the world for children with your donation. Click here to help.


President Obama-Prayers and Politics

January 21, 2009
Barack Obama

Photo coutesy of jmtimages

In light of a new President coming into office, I am reminded once again that as a Christian, I am to pray for those who are in authority.  So at the beginning of President Obama’s time in office I pray.

I pray that President Obama will have the healing presence of Gerald Ford, the gentle compassion of Jimmy Carter, the constant fortitude of Ronald Reagan, the deep faithfulness of George H.W. Bush, the political savvy of Bill Clinton, and the strong convictions of George W. Bush.

I pray that President Obama will have a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a public profession of God’s providence.

As more young people than ever are paying attention to this President, I pray that President Obama will be a model for them that a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ is more important than anything else, even the presidency of the United States of America.

That is my prayer, what is yours?