Monday, February 24, 2014

Jump Start Lent

The other day it dawned on me that we had (likely) made it through the thick of winter and were (hopefully) on the home stretch.  Then the sub-zero temperatures struck again and it really has me wondering if this winter will ever end.

One thing I know for sure though, is that Ash Wednesday is just a week away, hard as that is to believe.  To help your family observe the season of Lent together at home, I will be posting a few activities and things you can do together over the next several weeks.

To begin, I'd like to share this "Jump Start Activity" that I found at vibrantfaithathome.org.  I highly recommend that site; on it you can find activities and conversations that relate to a whole variety of life events and topics.

For this activity, you'll want to gather a container to hold money, such as a box, jar, or plastic food container.  You might also want to decorate the container with markers, stickers, or whatever.

Jump Start Lent
  1. Gather together as a family and say this prayer aloud: "Gracious God, help us to be generous in sharing what you have provided for our use with people who are in need.  Thank you for all you have us each day, and for sending your Son Jesus into our lives.  Amen."
  2. Explain that during the season of Lent-- Ash Wednesday through Palm Sunday--Christians traditionally do three things to prepare to celebrate Christ's resurrection at Easter: pray, fast, and give alms.  Almsgiving is another way of saying "giving to people who are in need."
  3. One thing some people may take for granted is the ability to buy a tank of gas for the family car.  Buying gasoline is a true hardship for people who are enduring hard times as gas prices climb.
  4. Pick a week or two during Lent to save money to use to buy a gas card for someone who needs help buying gas for his/her car.  It might be someone you know personally, or you could consider giving it to your church or the food shelf to disperse.  
  5. Put the container you've chosen on your dining table and explain that as a family, you will work to save money to buy a gas card for someone who needs help buying gas for his/her car.  
  6. On the days you designate, encourage each family member to make a donation of coins or currency to your container.  Children could donate part of allowance or birthday money or earn money doing extra chores.  Adults could give up a coffee break or a dine-out meal and contribute that money to the box.  Encourage one another to make a Lenten sacrifice to contribute the money.  
  7. Consider inviting grandparents or other extended family members to contribute to this Lenten activity as well.
  8. Each day during the weeks you have chosen to do this activity, pray for those who will receive the card.  For example: "Dear God, bless the people who will benefit from this donation.  Keep them safe and warm, and help them get where they need to go.  Amen."
  9. Once your chosen time frame is up,use the money collected to buy a gas card.  Discuss if there is someone you know personally who could benefit from it, or decide to give it to a social service agency or a stranger you see at the gas station.

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