The special seasons of preparation for the church offer congregations the opportunity to support families in the developing and maintaining of good practices for faithful devotion as families at home. Parents are very clear that they believe that they ought to be the primary teachers of faith to their children, but often struggle with how they might do that. Parents want to share their faith with their children, but they often simply don’t know how to do it. Research also affirms that children learn faith best from their parents. So, the best thing that the church can do for our children is support and resource their parents in the ways and means of passing on their faith with those they love so much.
Here is one resource that congregations can give to families to help them do just that.
What follows is a Lenten and Easter Family Devotional Booklet that is written for families to use daily; sharing scripture, prayers, conversation and activities while also sharing their family meal. It begins on Ash Wednesday (February 18. 2015) and goes through to EasterSunday (April 5, 2015). It invites families to engage with the lectionary readings of 2015 through short readings of scripture and/or age appropriate bible stories from The Bible in 365 Stories by Lion Publishing (this is a great children’s bible story book to recommend to families to use with primary school children). In addition to the readings and open ended conversations focused on ‘wondering’, the booklet includes each family making a simple and small tabletop garden that will grow and evolve over the six weeks of Lent, with new symbols occasionally being added and fun activities to do over their time together that tangibly express the ideas they experience together. Clear instructions to make this garden are included in the booklet.
To help families get started and learn how to use the booklet, your congregation might want to set aside some time just before Lent begins to start these gardens as a part of a larger Lent Event. Getting together as a church family while learning about Lent is a wonderful way of comfortably sharing the importance of faithful family conversation and resourcing families with the tools they need to get started. The garden is inexpensive to make and would take about 20 minutes to plant. A congregational Lent Event might include other activities such as sharing a meal together, playing some games, introducing the themes and meaning of Lent through a trivia game, the planting of the tabletop gardens in household groups, and then the important step of practicing daily family devotions by using the first day’s devotion as your closing worship together.
There are a few extra items mentioned in the booklet (kazoos, little animals, silk butterflies etc.) that families will use at home to continue re-creating their gardens over the weeks of Lent. Churches may want to send home a goodie bag with each family filled with these items so they will be encouraged to stick with their devotions and maintaining of their garden at home. These items are clearly noted in the booklet.
Finally the booklet file is in pdf format and has been written so that you can print out the 12 pages of the booklet, photocopy the pages front to back (page 2 on the back of page 1; page 4 on the back of page 3; etc), collate the pages, and then fold in half and staple it together down the middle to form a booklet. For this reason, when you open the file it will appear out of order. It isn’t. Have a go, photocopy it, assemble it, and the dates will all be in the right places. I promise!
I hope you and your family enjoy this opportunity to grow together over this wonderful season of Lent as we prepare for the wondrous glory that Easter brings.