I like Lent. I really, really, really like Lent. It has always been a good time for me spiritually, my three children have been (or will be) born during Lent, and when I was pastoring a church, it always seemed to me that folks were particularly receptive to the Spirit during the cold winter months before Spring. (Do Southern hemispherers experience Lent like this?)
As a pastor, I had a really great time planning Lent. We always had extra opportunities for worship, prayer, and fellowship. And the symbolism and colors were rich and meaningful, I thought. But I was never very good at trying to figure out how to observe it at home. And my kids were sort of pre-cognizant of any religious celebration.
This year, I'm at home, and I'm so excited that at some point in pastoral ministry, I purchased this book Before and After Easter: Activities and Ideas for Lent to Pentecost by Debbie Trafton O'Neal published by Augsburg. I know I thumbed through it at some point and liked it because I also have Before and After Christmas, but I hadn't given it much attention, as was evidenced by its perfect condition.
But, it is a GREAT resource! And I wish I would have paid a bit of attention to its companion book earlier in the year (It includes a great suggestion for building a cross out of the Christmas tree trunk to be used in Lenten worship). This book has a suggested activity for each of the 40 days of Lent centered on a short verse from the Bible. It also has activities for the days of Palm Sunday and Easter and then an activity for the seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost.
The activites are a great mix of crafts, worship, and service-oriented activities. Some of them are more simple -- i.e. cutting forsythia or pussywillow branches to be brought indoors to bloom or making a poster with 7 envelopes at the beginning of Lent to take an ongoing family offering. And some of them are a bit more complex -- i.e. weaving a doormat or taking inventory of one's house and levelling a "tax" for each possession. And there are some that require no crafting or extra activity at all -- i.e. learning a five finger prayer. Each activity is, for the most part, independent of the others, which makes it great for picking and choosing.
Best of all, there are great kid-friendly illustrations to appeal to the whole family. Annalivia and Daniel have enjoyed looking through it and Annalivia has requested some activities.
I think this is going to be a great resource for our family in the coming years, especially. If you and yours check it out, please let me know what you think!