Today is Ash Wednesday, and the season of Lent has begun. On Sunday during Christian Formation classes the children decorated the letters of the word "Alleluia" --that word of joy and praise that we do not say in Lent. (I've gotten myself in a bit of a pickle by not telling you about this before Lent began - please bear with me!) At the end of our 10:30 service, the children processed up the aisle with the decorated letters and lined up to form the "A" word. Then we put all the letters into a box and tucked them away in the Sacristy for the season of Lent. On Easter morning, we will see the word again, both in our worship and in a beautiful banner hanging in the Church, made from the letters the children decorated on Sunday. We've done this for several years, and I always enjoy it. It is a concrete way for the children to understand the more prayerful and reflective tone of Lent. They take it seriously, and carefully avoid the "A" word at all cost! Be sure that you do too! (That was my last slip, I promise!)
Lent is a time to grow closer to God through prayer. Last night at our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper we made paper prayer chains with the children. I'll admit, this was not the most thrilling craft we've done at the Pancake Supper, but I'm really excited about it. Cathy Wolford, a wonderful member of our parish, wrote out 35 ideas for prayer this Lent. She also provided five spaces to write your own prayers. We cut up the slips of prayer suggestions and made them into chains. For every day in Lent (except for Sunday, which is a "little Easter") your family is invited to rip off a ring and pray for the intention listed.
As I said, I didn't have high hopes for this little project, but I've come away pretty excited about it. It is a very easy way to observe Lent on your own or with children, and I think it will help set a prayerful tone for this special season. If you are the parent of teenagers who are not all that interested in Lent (as I am!), this may be particularly helpful! In my family, we will be using the links to focus our prayers before dinner.
If you didn't get your paper prayer chain at the Supper last night, we will have the supplies available at Church tonight for our Ash Wednesday services and on Sunday. Take a packet home and make it up to share with your family this Lent. In my next post, I'll share some wonderful ideas for bringing Lent into your home from friends around the web!
Don't forget the 5:30 pm Ash Wednesday Service for Families today! I hope to see you there!