Last year a smiling teenager said to me, “Guess what I am fasting from for Lent?” I hazarded a few guesses.  “Nope . . . T.V.!” she proclaimed proudly. “No T.V. for forty days and forty nights!”  Her excitement about a new way of journeying towards Easter made me think more about how we, as families, might pull away from something that dulls our minds or hardens our hearts, so that we might engage in some new and life-giving spiritual disciplines.  Instead of turning away from each other to a machine, we might want to turn toward each other and God.

And, I thought, why not?  Give up something, in order that you might free up some space in our lives to try something new.  And what if in forty days and nights we may have acquired a good habit?  The Scriptures have given us some clues as to what those habits of faith might look like:

 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…all who believed were together and had all things in common;  they would sell their possessions and goods an distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.” –Acts 2:42

Here are some ideas for Lent.  You might want to try one or two:
*For more ideas see the Lenten appendix in our new resource book, Loving Hearts United, A Moravian Guide for Family Living.

  • Eat one meal a day together, and take turns talking about your day. 
  • Bless your children and one another, each morning and before bed each evening.  Place your hand on his or her head and say a special blessing. This “meaningful touch” gives us solace and strength for our day and rest for our slumber.
  • Create a special family meal once a week that is sacred, uninterrupted time. Light a candle and share in devotions.  Your children will naturally want to find ways to make it special, by preparing the table or by leading a conversation.
  • Sing together the hymns of our Moravian tradition. 
  • Acts of Compassion:  Give yourselves to intentional service, by finding some ways as a family to engage in acts of compassion for a hurting world.  Our children and their friends in the neighborhood and at school decided they to raise money for tents for the children and their families in Sudan.  We parents got so involved in their mission. They made tie-dye tee shirts, beautiful blessing bowls, decoupage Christmas ornaments, votive candles and plates, which they sold at a neighborhood arts in the park.   We were so surprised when they raised $815.00, enough for 11 tents!  Young children and older elementary kids have a true hearts for mission.
  • Repentance and healing within your family—Lent is a season of repentance and confession.  It’s never too late to welcome God’s healing presence in a relationship.  Children sometimes need to hear from their parents that we are sorry. Lent is a good time to search our souls in terms of what lies hidden, broken and unspoken that needs to be held up to the light and grace of Christ.
  • Pray with your children. J. Bradley Wigger writes: “Prayers of praise and prayers of thanksgiving teach gratitude. Prayers of concern teach about care and sources of strength in hard times.  Prayers in hushed tones or silence teach reverence and respect; exuberant prayer teaches passion and joy.  As children themselves pray, not only are they practicing these things, but also they can reveal what may be going on in their souls.  A child may be afraid to start school, need protection from a bully, be so thankful for Grandma, or hope people who are hungry will find some bread today.  Hearing the prayers of our children teaches us about them, helps us pay attention, helps us know how they are doing. . . When a child sees a father bow his head or a mother raise her hands in praise, the child is learning to see that there is an authority greater than the parent.”  
  • At the end of the day share in a family examen (another word for examining your day).  The Linn family shared their experience of how this simple spiritual practice was so life- giving for them: “For many years , we have ended each day the same way.  We light a candle, become aware of God’s loving presence, and take about five minutes of quiet while we ask ourselves two questions. Pick ones that work best for your family. 

For what moment today am I most grateful?  For what moment today am I least grateful?    
When did I feel most alive today?  When was I happiest today? 
When did I feel the life draining out of me?  When was I saddest today?”

Moravian hymns provide rich questions for the examen: 
How did Jesus make my heart rejoice today? How did I know Jesus’ voice today?

None of us can underestimate the power any religious practice may hold for our children. It’s like giving them a trellis upon which to grow towards the Light.  May God hallow your season of Lent and Easter.

Grace and peace to you and your dear ones,

Rev. Lisa Mullen,
Director of Children and Family Life

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