The way Rhonda Kindig sees it, the season of Advent comes with ample resources for families — from candles on Advent wreaths to colorful calendars with doors to open. Lent, however, is not quite as family friendly. “We have vague notions that we should ‘give up’ something, but as with fad diets, follow-through is problematic,” Kindig said.
If Lent could be approached as a time for a new, focused discipline, families might be more motivated to take on such a practice, she said. So she created a “Forty Days of Lent” activity calendar for her congregation, St. John Lutheran, Abingdon, Va. It actually goes beyond Easter since Sundays aren’t officially counted in the 40 days.
The calendar’s counting exercises provide “teachable moments” for each day. Activities offered in each square give people a chance to simply give thanks for something in their life (“How many carrots and potatoes are in your fridge? Give thanks for farmers!”). But Kindig adds a giving element as well. As a different item is counted each day, she encourages an equal amount of coins to be placed in a bank for ELCA World Hunger or another worthy cause.
“The saving of coins offers a tangible reminder of the value of sharing our blessings,” she said. Families can either create their own banks or designate a household vessel for holding the ever-increasing coins throughout the 40 days. The church will have a special offering after Easter.
Kindig considers this the ultimate low-budget resource, and will simply make copies of the calendar (download it here) and hand them out prior to Ash Wednesday. She encourages other congregations to distribute it as well, and says it’s not just for families with children. “Even households without children may enjoy the simple practice of counting blessings,” Kindig said.
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