Lent 2019

Lent 2019

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Ash Wednesday is coming up on March 6, which marks the beginning of the season of Lent.  Lent is the time on the church calendar during which we prepare ourselves, through spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer, and service, to come close to the mystery of Easter.  Lent is a serious time, which can make it difficult to consider how we should engage our children and families in meaningful ways this season.  

Lent can be a wonderful season for beginning, continuing, or getting back on track with rhythms of family discipleship in your home.  Remember, this is a time to make space by subtraction, not a time to schedule yourselves up so much or to commit to so many spiritual experiences that you overwhelm yourself and your family.  We have created a simple Lenten calendar that will walk you through the season giving you one thing each day that is designed to direct your heart to Jesus through fasting, prayer, or service.  The calendar also includes the daily Psalms readings that  our church is doing together--as Lent is an excellent time to lean into the Psalms--a book that pours out all human experience before a loving savior who is both the Lamb and the Good Shepherd.  We’ve also put together a prayer liturgy based on the Psalms that your household can use on a weekly basis to observe this season together.

Below, you will find a list of supplemental resources, and further explanations for some of the activities listed on the Lenten Calendar. Again, approach this list with prayer and discernment. We pray that whatever you choose to do, or not do, you will do it in joy and in freedom that the purpose of our fasting and our praying and our giving is to feel the ache of our brokenness, our deep need for a Savior and to lift our eyes to his beautiful face.


Books

Books for Children

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent & Easter- Laura Alary

The Tale of the Three Trees–  Angela Elwell Hunt

Peter’s First Easter– Walter Wangerin Jr.

Amon’s Adventure: A Family Story for Easter Arnold Ytreeide *We haven’t read this one, but it comes highly recommended and is a book you can read throughout Lent, finishing on EasterSunday. Probably best for ages 7/8 and up.

 

Books for Adults or Families with Older Children 

Reliving the Passion– Walter Wangerin Jr.

Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter– Various including Lewis, L’Engle, Nouwen, Chesterton, etc.

Living the Resurrection– Eugene Peterson (an excellent read during holy week!)

MUSIC

Here’s a Spotify Playlist  of songs for Lent.

PRAYER

Family Worship: We've created a Lenten Liturgy based on the Psalms that you can download here.  There are a few materials you will need to gather from around your home or the store, so you may want to look at it ahead of time. Our family plans to use it on Saturday evenings during Lent. If you use it, please take a minute to share how your family is using it on our New City Families Facebook page.
 

Activities 

Prayer Chain: Create a paper chain with 40 links– You can write names of people on them, things your family is praying for, or scripture passages. Each day take one of the links off during family devotional time and pray for the person or issue on the link.

Prayer Station: Create a prayer station in your home. This can be as simple as a chair with a purple cloth or piece of construction paper taped to it, or you can choose to include a small tray or basket filled with items such as: a children’s Bible, prayer book, small pad of paper and crayons or markers, pictures to color or printed Bible verse cards, brave parents of older children could include a candle (or a battery powered one!).  Ann Voskamp has a beautiful piece about how they use a station like this in their home.

FASTING

Many families choose to give something up for Lent– this may be a meal once a week, treats, television, etc.  It is important that no matter what you choose to give up, you explain to your children the reasons we are doing this– to join Christ in his sufferings and to lift our eyes to him. It can help to think of and talk about Advent and Lent as the similar seasons that they are– we are fasting before we feast.  In Advent, we are consciously waiting for the coming Christ, and in Lent, we are actively paying attention to how sinful and empty we are without the risen Christ. Disciplines and practices that we take on during these seasons of waiting (Advent) and penitence (Lent) should always serve to direct our hearts towards Jesus.  

Burying the Alleluia: This hands-on activity can help children understand Lent as a time to mourn and repent of our sin.  Make Alleluia banners– these can be as simple as markers or watercolors on large pieces of paper or as complicated as fabric banners sewn together– the important thing is that this activity can be done together and can provide an opportunity to talk about alleluia– what it means and why we say it. Together, either on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday or on Shrove Tuesday, bury the Alleluia banner, either in a box outside or in a closet in your house, in your basement, etc.  Then on Easter morning, get it back out and display it in your house throughout the Easter season.

Sundays are Feast Days: Lent is 40 days plus Sundays. Sundays are always feast days.  Decide together whether you will continue your fast through the Sundays or whether you will choose to feast on the Sundays: if you choose to eat simple meals during Lent, for example, perhaps you would have pancake breakfast on Sundays.

GIVING

The third spiritual discipline observed during Lent is giving. It can be beneficial to focus on a specific group of people or ministry for the entire season, to learn about them and to commit to pray for them.  Some examples include: refugees, the unborn, children in poverty, people in the 10/40 window, orphans, foster children, etc. There are many tangible things that your family could do in addition to monetary donation during Lent to support ministries and organizations that are dedicated to these populations and bountiful resources online to help your family learn about them and pray for them.

Activities: 

Gift Jar: Throughout Lent, place money in a jar to give as a gift on Easter.  Together as a family decide where that money should go.  Some families choose to eat simple meals and put all the money saved in this jar, other families agree to put a portion of any money they receive as gifts in the jar– talk together about how you will give sacrificially during Lent.

40 bags/items in 40 days: Go through your home and collect things that you no longer need (one bag/item each day) and either donate them, or sell them and add the money to your giving jar.

Maybe this is old news to you, or you have practices your family has treasured practices for celebrating Lent.  I’d love to hear about them!

Walking Through The Psalms

Walking Through The Psalms

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As you may have read in our January Newsletter, our church will be taking a walk through the Psalms this year. Reading a Psalm each day will have us reading through the whole book of Psalms twice over the course of this year. This is a great opportunity to introduce your children to the Psalms, to pray the Psalms together as a family, and to spend time in the church’s first prayer book. It’s also something that can be easily folded into your day, into things you are already doing, so that you aren’t bearing another burden, but instead maximizing the time your family spends together. This post is full of suggestions for how to fold the Psalms into things you are already doing, resources that will help your family see the Psalms in a new light, and ways you can participate with the church body as we walk through the Psalms together. We have often discussed how the impact of family and church are strengthened in the lives of your children when they are combined. This year presents a great opportunity to practice this together. As you make the Psalms a part of your daily and weekly rhythms together, please share with us what is working for you—we would love to hear about it!

Folding the Psalms into Your Day

Psalm of the Month

Sit down this week and go through the Psalms, selecting a Psalm to focus on each month. Consider printing out a copy of this Psalm and hanging it somewhere prominent in your home, choosing a verse or series of verses to memorize together, or making it a part of your weekly or daily times of prayer together.

Psalm of the Week

Consider reading the Sunday Psalm at lunch after church or before bed on Sunday night. If you have very young children, use a resource suggested below or a child-friendly version of the Bible such as the NIrV to read the Psalm in language that will be more accessible to children. Invite your children to work with Play-doh or clay or to color, paint, or draw while you are reading.

Psalm of the Day

Follow along with the daily reading plan by reading a Psalm together before or after dinner each evening, at bedtime, or if you have independent readers, have everyone read it on their own and focus on a few verses together as a family.

Sing Psalms Together

Check out this Spotify Playlist to have the words of the Psalms playing in your home, while you are doing household chores or driving in the car. Consider selecting a different song to sing before or after dinner or at bedtime each month. At the end of the year, your family will have 12 Psalms that are meaningful parts of your life together.

Resources for Reading the Psalms with Children

There are several resources available that can serve as supplements to the reading of the psalms in your home. Consider these for Easter basket gifts, birthdays, or other special occasions this year. *The links below are Amazon Smile links that result in donations to our church. Thanks for using them if you choose to purchase based on our recommendation!

Babies/Preschoolers

This is a delightful retelling of Psalm 23 from the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is illustrated beautifully and in a board book format for babies and toddlers.

This is a delightful retelling of Psalm 23 from the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is illustrated beautifully and in a board book format for babies and toddlers.

This sturdy board book features beautifully digitized watercolor illustrations that attach action words to several verses from the Psalms. A great way to get wiggly preschoolers involved—they love to mimic the action while the verse is read.

This sturdy board book features beautifully digitized watercolor illustrations that attach action words to several verses from the Psalms. A great way to get wiggly preschoolers involved—they love to mimic the action while the verse is read.

Early Elementary

This book combines beautiful illustrations with child-friendly paraphrases of many Psalms that are cited so that you can pair them with scripture reading. A great option to read one each night at bedtime!

This book combines beautiful illustrations with child-friendly paraphrases of many Psalms that are cited so that you can pair them with scripture reading. A great option to read one each night at bedtime!

This book sets the familiar words of Psalm 23 against the backdrop of a day in a child’s life in the city.

This book sets the familiar words of Psalm 23 against the backdrop of a day in a child’s life in the city.

Late Elementary & Middle/High School

The ESV Psalms Journal has a blank lined page opposite each page of scripture text for journaling and note-taking. Families with older children could purchase a copy and use it for times of individual reading or reading together. Releases at the end of January.

The ESV Psalms Journal has a blank lined page opposite each page of scripture text for journaling and note-taking. Families with older children could purchase a copy and use it for times of individual reading or reading together. Releases at the end of January.

The ESV Devotional Psalter from Crossway has the ESV scripture text of all 150 Psalms followed by a short devotional reading.

The ESV Devotional Psalter from Crossway has the ESV scripture text of all 150 Psalms followed by a short devotional reading.

Walking Through The Psalms in Community

Keep your eyes open for several opportunities throughout the year to engage your family in the Psalms with the larger church body. Two that are coming up soon are listed below:

Psalms Artwork

We loved having children from our congregation contribute their thoughtful and creative work to our Advent guides this year. Each child was asked to create a piece of artwork based on a passage of scripture and the results blew us away! This year, we’d like to invite all children and youth in the congregation to create art based on the Sunday Psalm each week and turn it into us at church. Look for the artwork display coming soon to Murray Commons! The Psalms readings for each week can be found in the Household Worship Guide portion of the bulletin and in the weekly emails from church staff.

Lent & Holy Week

For Lent this year, each family will receive a calendar with the daily Psalm readings along with activities, ideas, and suggestions for engaging with the Psalms and with the season of waiting, repentance, and preparation for Easter. Bring children to Holy Week Services where they will receive a special Psalms-themed Holy Week Coloring Book.

Advent 2018

Advent 2018

A collection of Advent Resources for your family, including a free download of our 2018 weekly Advent Guide featuring artwork from our New City Kids and designed to complement our Advent sermon series.