Holy Week is upon us! I wanted to share a few ideas with you all about celebrating Lent and Holy Week. Lent is such a beautiful time. I love what Orthodox Christian priest Anthony Coniaris writes in his book, “ Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home”:
It is significant that Lent happens to coincide with Spring in the northern climes. I think there is a wonderful lesson for us in this happy coincidence. Lent should be for all of us a period of placing ourselves in the position where the best things can happen for us. That position for Orthodox Christians is the presence of Christ, where the Sun of His love and power can shine into our arid souls to bring about a real awakening, a real springtime of the soul.
Here are some brief suggestions for celebrating Lent and Holy Week:
- Attend church. As believers in Christ, we are designed to be in community with one another so church attendance should have a priority in this season. Attend church on Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, any of the services available for celebrating Saints, and attending the liturgies available during Holy Week all lead to a meaningful and beautiful Easter celebration. Children learn by doing and modeling what we are doing.
- In the Anglican Communion, some of my favorite and special Saint days and feasts during Lent include St. David on March 1 (eat leek and potato soup, daffodil crafts, and see the story about St. David at www.mainlesson.com); St. Patrick on March 17th, St. Joseph on March 19th, The Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 25th, and Innocent of Alaska on March 30th. The Anglican Communion also marks the lives of Dietrich Bonehoeffer on April 9th (which would be wonderful for eighth graders and up to study), and on the life of Adoniram Judson on April 12 (there are several good biographies of him available for older grades aged children).
- Establish a Lenten mood by doing something small, such as taking the time to listen to the birds sing every morning during Lent or watching the sunset every night. This small act of breathing into the world and work of our Creator is so meaningful.
- At the beginning of Lent, use wooden letters available and “bury” the alleluia that is not said during Lenten liturgies. See Elizabeth Foss’ blog for more details here: http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/02/preparing-for-lent.html
- Create a Lenten calendar.
- Collect alms for your particular religious denomination or a monastery or convent. During Lent many Anglican parishes collect for the United Thank Offering or Episcopal Relief and Development.
- Daily prayer is so important. In the Anglican tradition, The Book of Common Prayer has many places to start with prayer.
- Fasting and confession are integral parts of Lent. Please discuss with your parish priest or spiritual father what is right for your family.
- My favorite books for Lent include “Kevin and the Blackbird’s Nest”, “Ravens of Farne”, “Rechenka’s Eggs”, “Petook” and “The Legend of the Three Trees”. We have many books for Lent and Eastertide, and continue to build up our collection over the years.
- With older children especially, I think one can really get into meaningful conversations about prayer, the role of prayer, and about what God is doing in their lives.
- Gratitude lists
- Make pretzels together.
- Crafts for young ones include wind rings and wind wands, walnut boats to sale, God’s eyes
- Lenten spring cleaning!
- Elizabeth Foss featured Kristin’s Crafts for Kids on her blog. You can learn more here: http://kristinscraftsforkids.blogspot.com/2014/02/craft-kits-for-lent.html
Blessed Holy Week to my Christian readers, and peace to all,