by Karen Brown on February 04, 2021
June 17, 2022
Can you believe Lent begins in two weeks? As Christians, we use the forty days before Easter to focus on Christ's suffering and sacrifice on the cross. Exactly how different Christian denominations use this time to prepare for Easter can look very different, and it can be confusing for kids (and adults, too!). Your family might have friends or neighbors who observe Lent by “giving up” something. Some fast or give up meat every Friday until Easter. Your kids will certainly wonder why some people are wearing ashes on their forehead on February 17, Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.
They might ask why we don’t do any of these things at Central. Since they know we’re all sinners, they might wonder why we don’t wear ashes or practice giving up things. We could answer by telling them about church history, and how some denominations emphasize works for salvation, and why some have Friday fish fries during Lent. But would that be the best way prepare them for a rich celebration of God’s grace on Easter morning and beyond?
Our kids should know about church history and different denominations. But it will serve them better if we used this season to give our kids some solid theology on suffering and sacrifice.
Suffering? Sacrifice? Your kids may ask, “If Jesus’ work on the cross is complete and our salvation is assured in him, what role does sacrifice have in my life?” As usual, we find our answers at the cross.
Jesus sacrificed out of love
First, Jesus sacrificed out of love. Kids are always surprised when they first realize that Jesus could have come down from the cross at any time. His life wasn’t taken from him, he gave it up freely. When we realize that love kept him there, the cross becomes a whole lot bigger. Even though sacrifice is no longer necessary for our salvation, we are called to love like Jesus. In light of the cross, anything we “give up for Lent” should be out of love for God and benefit his creation, our neighbors, and our enemies.
Jesus broke the curse of sin for us on the cross
Second, Jesus sacrificed to undo the effects of the Fall. Jesus broke the curse of sin for us on the cross. That work of salvation is finished. But God invites us to join him in the continuing work of restoring his creation until Jesus returns. With the freedom and hope of assured salvation, we can commit all of our energy and resources to building his Kingdom for our good and for his glory. Like Jesus, we can work to undo the effects of the Fall in our world, in our relationships, and in our own hearts.
So, go ahead and give up chocolate or Netflix for Lent, but why? Will you use your “chocolate money” to benefit someone in need? Will you use your Netflix time to build, create, or repair something instead?
Maybe you can use that extra chocolate or time to help restore a relationship, or model Jesus’ love for sinners. Maybe it’s as simple (and complex) as denying yourself a little bit in an effort to shake off the idols of comfort and distraction.
God has proven that he can do much with forty days. May he use this Lenten season to bring the love and hope of the cross to our children. Over these next forty days and beyond, may we all give ourselves away so others may see Jesus.
Below are some of our favorite resources for discipling kids about Easter and gospel-centered sacrifice. We pray they are a source of encouragement and support for your family.
Our Elementary Coordinator, Becky Hall, has recorded devotions for each Resurrection Egg, so you can simply click on each video and you’ve got a virtual set and devotion leader. Just make a yummy treat, round up the family, and check out her videos below:
Other Lenten/Easter resources are:
The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross (Book. Elementary and younger)
Why Does Resurrection Matter? (Middle school and older)- A video created by Jonathan Dockery in his final year at Covenant Seminary.