Ash Wednesday falls on February 25th this year. It marks the beginning of Lent, a traditional religious season of prayer, fasting, and the giving of alms. Many Christians mark the beginning of Lent by stopping by their Church to receive the mark of ashes, in the form of a cross, on their forehead.
Ash Wednesday: Teach Children the Meaning of the Fast
Ash Wednesday is a great time to introduce children to the meaning and purpose of the season of Lent. Children may be unable to fast from food, but can learn what it means to sacrifice by fasting from video games, TV, or some other activity or hobby.
The idea is to teach the child that faith and time alone with God will grow through sacrifice. I believe that children can be taught to turn to God when the thing they are fasting from begins to allure them, just as adults who fast from food. The purpose of the fast is to take time to refocus one’s mind and thoughts on God.
Use discretion when teaching children to fast. Make sure they are old enough to understand the principle or you will simply be teaching them to participate in a religious ritual without meaning or purpose. There is already enough of that in the world.
Ash Wednesday: Use Coloring Sheets and Stories to Teach Children the Meaning of Lent
Websites, like Theholidayspot.com offer free coloring sheets, stories, and poems that can be shared with children. Use these free resources to introduce the season of Lent and explain to your child the meaning of Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday: Children Help Prepare a Feast to Celebrate
In modern times, many people will begin to fast on Ash Wednesday. However, as mentioned above for kids, many adults in this generation will fast from one particular food or vice. That is their way of sacrificing during Lent.
As long as the family is not fasting from food, allow the kids to help prepare a feast to celebrate the season. While Lent is a time of sacrifice and giving, teach the children that, as in all things, it can also be a time to celebrate their faith and salvation in Christ.
I can think of no better time to cook as a family, allow the kids to help plan the meal, and give each family member the opportunity to offer thanksgiving to God for the food and their blessings.
Ash Wednesday: Allow Children to Participate in Giving Alms
“Giving alms” is not a phrase we use much anymore, but we should know and teach our children that it is the blessing of the poor and needy by giving from our own abundance. In order to do this we have to adjust our own perspective to see that we are indeed blessed and do live in abundance. This may be difficult for children to understand, but the basic premise is that we all have something we can give that will help others.
Ash Wednesday is the perfect day to deliver non-perishable food to your local food pantry, distribute blankets and coats to the homeless, or allow your children to work in a non-profit social agency for a few hours in order to open their eyes to the needs of those around them.
There is often a defensive remark when we encourage children to become involved in helping the needy. The Church is filled with fear. I will tell you that we have worked with the poor and needy for years and never once been threatened.
This is a good time for us to remember that God is sovereign and that the Bible teaches us that perfect love, God’s love, casts out fear. There is nothing to fear when you are blessing others or giving to the poor. Exercise prudence and caution, but don’t be afraid to have your children roll up their sleeves and get involved on Ash Wednesday.