Introduction to Lent

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem”–Luke 9:51

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer. ” (From the Book of Common Prayer, 265).

Lent is…

A time of penance during which we work on holy disciplines that make room for God to make our hearts right.

A time during which we prepare to walk with Jesus through the events of Holy Week and to the cross.

The time during which the early Church focused on preparation for baptism.

A time to be reminded of God’s forgiveness and our deep need for God.

A time to remember and reflect on how we might life in light of God’s love and forgiveness during Lent and all year.

Gathering Activity

Noticing Sacred Space: Many of the children in your class will already know that the Lenten season has begun. For those who have just come from one of the liturgies, they will see many of the changes in our Nave, mostly obviously our cross which is draped with purple and the Priests’ vestments which have changed from green to purple. Invite students to share their observations about our worship space. What is different? Why is purple the color of Lent? Is it similar to Advent (during both times we anticipate the arrival of King Jesus). If your students didn’t notice the changes, take a trip upstairs to check it out! Remind them to share their observations with their parents.

The Sign of the Cross: Remind your students that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Remind or share with your class what happens at the Ash Wednesday service.  We go to church and our foreheads are marked with Ashes in the shape of the cross. The priest said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” This helps us think about Jesus’ death on the cross and even our own. This might be a hard concept for some of our children, but they may understand the significance better by experiencing the movement. Invite your students to find a partner and take turns making the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads. Some of your students may remember that this is the same gesture we make with water when we remember our baptism. Share some of the meanings of Lent–it is a time of remembering our own sin, God’s forgiveness, and preparing for (or remembering) our baptisms.

Lent Books: We have many wonderful books about Lent in our Christian Education Cabinet. Feel free to use some of these as a way to start your class as students begin to gather for the day.

Responding to Lent

(1.) Countdown Calendars:

a. Paper chain countdowns are popular and some children in your class may have done them before. They provide an excellent visual for the journey through the days of Lent and Holy Week.  As a class or individually, make a paper chain countdown to Easter.  Use 39 purple strips (for Ash Wednesday and the days of Lent), 5 red strips (for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week), 1 black strip (for Good Friday), 1 White or Gold Strip (for Easter).  Mark the first purple strip with a cross using a black marker. This strip is for Ash Wednesday. Good Friday can also be marked with a cross (chalk may be best on the black paper), Easter can be marked with the image of a butterfly or an empty tomb (both signs of the resurrection).

b. Conventional Calendar: You can download and print off the block calendar that is provided here (to fit an 11×17 you will want to blow it up to 129% on your computer) or make your own on one of the 11×17 sheets of copy paper we have in the supply closet. When you gather on Sunday mornings in Lent, you can count the total number of days in Lent that have passed and mark each day with a cross. This counting exercise may help our youngest children experience the length of Lent and have continuity from week to week.

(2.) Lenten Self Portraits: Give each child a square or quarter sheet of purple paper. Ask them to draw a picture of themselves. Once they are finished, have them mark the sign of the cross on their forehead with charcoal or chalk (We should have some in the supply closet). On the bottom of their page, children of writing age may write: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Discuss the significance of this statement which is first spoken by God to Adam in Genesis 3:19:

By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.’

I am unable to find the original source for this image. If you happen to know, please let me know and I will link and credit it.

(3.) Memorizing Prayers and Scripture:

a. Prayer of Confession (Older Children): Work with your class each week during Lent to memorize the Prayer of Confession from the Book of Common Prayer.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us that we may delight in your will and walk in your way, to the glory of your name. Amen.

b. Luke 9:51 (Younger Children).

(4.) Lenten Prayer Tree: The word Lent comes from the Latin “lencten” or lengthening, referring to the lengthening days as we slowly transition from the dead of winter to the joy and life of Spring. Fortunately for us the Triangle is looking extra wintery this week. If you feel that it is safe to do so, take your class on a walk outside. Notice together how Lent begins at a time when everything in the natural world is quiet and appears to be dead. Look for a few branches to bring back to your class.  Once you have returned discus how Lent is a time when the world turns from winter to Spring, and we spend time clearing all of the sin from our lives, so that we can make room for the life that is given in Christ.

Put your branches in a vase and give each child a purple ribbon. Ask them to think about the things they have done in their lives that might be considered sins–talking back to mom or dad, picking on a brother or sister. Or maybe there is someone they know who they find difficult to love. As each child thinks of something or someone, invite them to tie their ribbon on your Lenten prayer tree.  This movement is an act of confession or prayer. In the coming weeks, you may want to carve out the same space for confession, thanksgivings, or petitions. Each time children can tie something to the tree–a ribbon, paper leaf, or paper flower. By the end of Lent, your class will have a blooming tree filled with new life!

Close with Prayer and a Feast!

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Jesus our Companion: The Last Supper

The Last Supper by Tintoretto 1594, Oil on canvas

All four of the Gospels give us an account of the events at the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples. In the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus explains that one of the disciples will betray him and institutes the Lord’s Supper. In John, Jesus identifies Judas as his betrayer after he washes the feet of those with whom he is eating.In all four Gospels we have a command from Jesus to do something in and for his remembrance (wash feet and share this meal).

Objectives

(1.) To retell the story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples

(2.) To identify the significant things the Gospel writers tell us happened at the Last Supper.

(3.) To practice remembering Jesus meal with his disciples and particularly the institution of the Lord’s Supper or his washing the disciples feet.

Gathering

Remind your students that this is the last day of Sunday School before Easter and that next Sunday will be Palm-Passion Sunday.

Hear the Word

Share the story of footwashing from John 13:1-5 or Jesus bread breaking from Luke 22:19-21. These texts focus on particular practices that our children will likely recognize from Church. If you would like to share some of the context around these practices, we have a few books in the Christian Ed. Library for your use.

Respond to the Word

(1.) Contemplating art: Find art depicting scenes from the synoptics or John. Use them to reflect on the story of Jesus last meal with his disciples. I love this serigraph  of communion and this serigraph  of Jesus washing the disciples feet, both by John August Swanson. You may have other images you would like to explore. After discussing and working with several depictions, invite each child to make an artistic rendering of their own.

(2.) Last Supper Diorama: As a class, create a diorama of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. Use a cardboard box for the structure. Construct a table with scrap wood (in the supply closet) and cardboard. Make simple linens from fabric. Depending on the number of children in your class, provide each child with a clothespin to paint or color and dress (you can use fabric and yarn or tissue paper). You can be as elaborate (yarn hair) or simple as you would like and is appropriate for your age group. Invite each child to name their figure after one of the people present at the supper. Then, as a class, discuss the events of the night. Perhaps you would like to focus on Jesus’ giving the bread and wine as his body or maybe the footwashing from John’s Gospel caught your attention. Talk about what those things–communion and footwashing–tell us about how Jesus wants us to follow him.

If you have extra time after creating your diorama, younger children may enjoy retelling the story using their figures. Older children may enjoy imagining that they are one of the disciples (or a fly on the wall) and writing about their experience in first-person in the Lenten journals. When you are finished, you may leave the diorama in your class and I will store them for later use.

(2a.) DaVinci Diorama: Alternativly, you may enjoy making this diorama based on DaVinci’s depiction of the Last Supper.

(3.) Footwashing:  Work together to set up buckets and sponges or cloths from the Christian Education Supply closet (If the weather is nice, your class may enjoy doing this outside). Put children in pairs and ask them to gently wash one another’s feet. Respond together to this practice. Was this an odd choice? How does it show love?

Bonus: If you have a younger class you may want to play a game with the water, buckets, and sponges after washing feet. Use the sponges and buckets to have a bucket-filling relay race (similar to the baptism or woman at the well water game).

(4.) Last Supper Poems and Prayers: After your class hears the story of the Last Supper, read the poem(s), “The Passover,” “Last Lesson,” and/or “Communion” from At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter by Nikki Grimes (I will put this book at the front of the commons for you to use). Take some time after each poem to look at and observe the beautiful woodcuts featured in the book (by North Carolina artist, David Frampton). Ask your students to share what they think the Last Supper was like. How did the disciples feel knowing that they would only have Jesus for a short time? What did they think when Jesus broke bread with them and gave them wine? What about when he washed their feet? Then, invite your students to write their own poems about the Last Supper in their Lenten journals. If you have time remaining, invite students to share their poems with the class.

(5.) Last meal, last thoughts: Reflect together on what it might feel like to be present with Jesus at the Last Supper. You might talk about what Jesus was thinking about or why he chose to show his love in a meal (the Synoptics) and footwashing (John). What were the disciples thinking as Jesus shared with them the details of what was about to happen? What did they think about having their feet washed? What did they think about Judas? Share your reflections with each other before writing about them in the Lenten journals.

(6.) Last Supper Play-Doh Meal: Young children may enjoy this activity. Use the print out and have your class make play-doh (closet near the nursery) or clay (closet near the 3+4 year old class) images from the Last Supper (bread, chalice, or water basin).

Lenten Journals: Ask your students to draw a depiction of the Last Supper. They may like to focus on communion, footwashing, or both.

Close in Prayer

Jesus our Teacher: The Good Shepherd

Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1930

Objectives

(1.) Children will work with the image of the sheep and shepherd and describe their relationship.

(2.) Over the season of Lent, children will come to see Jesus as the Good Shepherd whose very life is given for the sheep.

Gather

Remind your class that we are observing the season of Lent. If you have selected a discipline for the season, work on that for a bit before moving into the lesson. Remember to look at the journal prompts at the end of this lesson.

Hear the Word

The Parable of the Good Shepherd is found in John 10: 1-5, 11-18. You can also tell this story from one of our children’s Bibles. I will put them out on Sunday in the commons area for your use.

Respond to the Word

(1.) Watercolor Sheep: Use the watercolor paper in the supply closet (we have multiple sizes, including 11×17). Ask your students to use white crayon and draw as many sheep as they would like on the water color paper. Writers may enjoy writing “I am the Good Shepherd” or “Jesus is my Shepherd” somewhere on the page. All of the children may enjoy coloring the sun or some landscape details. Once the coloring is complete, use water color to paint the grass and sky. Example here.

For our younger children who may not be quite ready to draw forms, you can cut out white circles while letting them paint the grass and sky. Once the paper is mostly dry, place the white circles on the poster and ask the children to color in sheep details.

If you do this activity, spend a couple of minutes showing the children how to use watercolor. You might like to demonstrate the way to get variations of color: more water for areas that you want to be lighter, and less water when you want the color to be darker. Here is an article about helping children be successful with watercolors.

(2.) Naming Sheep: Each child loves knowing that the Good Shepherd calls the sheep by name. When I told this story to some of our Holy Family children, it was their favorite part! Begin by having each student in your class make a small (about the size of a hand) paper sheep. Then, using the paper materials, tell the story of the good shepherd. When you finish, point to one of the sheep and wonder: “I wonder what name the Good Shepherd calls this sheep.” Invite the children to respond by giving each of the sheep a name. As you wrap up, put the sheep in a line, point to the first one again and say, “I wonder if the Good Shepherd calls this sheep [insert child’s name].” Some of the children have seen this happen at our Wednesday night Lent programs (about 15 of them), but they loved to name the sheep (we had some creative ones) and loved to hear that the sheep shared their own name. As each child leaves your classroom, encourage them to share all of their sheep names with their parents.

(3.) Reenact or Retell the story: Use materials created in class, from the Godly Play room, or from the supply closet (I have eight or nine yarn sheep that one class can borrow for this activity). After you have shared the story, wonder together about it (I wonder why the sheep wander, or I wonder why these sheep are so precious to the Good Shepherd). Afterwards, take turns letting the children tell the story with materials. Watch them tell the story and ask them to share why they told the story the way that they did. You may want to ask them a simpler question: What is your favorite part of the story?

Please let me know if you would like to do this so I can set aside some materials for you to choose from.

(4.) Active Games (same as the ones we used for the Parable of the Lost Sheep):

Hide and Go Sheep: Select one of your students to play shepherd,while the remainder of your class wanders and hides from him/her. The shepherd looks for each of the sheep and takes them to a designated sheepfold. When all of the sheep have been found, the game can start over with a different shepherd.

Sheepfold (like Sardines) Choose one student in your class to hide in the sheepfold. All of the other students look for the other student. Without a word, as each child finds the sheepfold, they join until the last sheep has found the sheepfold. (you may have success playing this game outside).

“Where are my Sheep?” (like Marco Polo): Choose one child to play the shepherd. Blind fold them and spin them around. The shepherd asks, “Where are my sheep?” and each time the other children should say “baaa.” Each sheep the shepherd tags is out and must go sit in the sheepfold.

Journal: Younger classes may like to add the sheep’s name to their journal page from last week. They may also enjoy drawing a shepherd, sheepfold, and several sheep. Children at writing age, may like to tell the story of the Good Shepherd in their own words. Our older students, may rewrite the story in their own words and then write why it is meaningful to them.

Alternatively, you may print off a poem or story from this blog post. Read and reflect on the selection together. Then, ask each student to paste a copy of the selection into their journal. Children may want to decorate around the selection or write what it means to them. Even if your students are not of reading or writing age, you may enjoy reading these selections. Parents may also like a copy of the poem or story.

Close in Prayer: Your students may enjoy this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.

From the Venite (p. 32, Paragraph 3, from Psalm 95:6-7) reads: “Come let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh that today you would hearken to his voice!”

The Good Shepherd Stories and Other Selections

These stories are intended to be a resource to you as you plan for Jesus our Teacher: The Good Shepherd. As mentioned in that lesson, you may want to print one of these selections for your students to paste in their journals. Younger children can decorate around the selection and hear the story in your own words. Older children may enjoy reflecting together on the selection before reflecting through writing or art in their Lenten journals. Note: If you print the poems, you may want to reformat in Word, substituting the line break indicators (|) for actual line breaks.

The Shepherd is the Gate

Many years ago I was traveling by donkey from Nishapur, the city of the poet Omar Khayyam, in eastern Iran to Sebsevar, a three days journey to the West. We stopped in a tiny village of mud huts for the night, and when we arose the next morning the dry duty land was covered with a mantle of beautiful white snow.

As the donkey driver stated firmly that it was impossible for his animals to move while the snow was so deep, there was nothing to do but wait till the snow melted a bit. So all that day we remained in the village.

In the afternoon I set out to see the sights about the village. Not far away I came to a mound of earth piled up in a large circle, like a crude rampart, and on top of the mound all around the circle was a heap of dry thorns. As I stood wondering what this might be one of the villagers approached me, “Salaam” I said, “please tell me what this enclosure is for.”

“Oh, that is for the sheep,” he replied. “They are brought in here for the night for safety.”

“Good,” I said, “but why have the dry thorns been piled on top of the wall?”

“That,” he replied, “is a protection against wolves. If a wolf tries to break in and attack the sheep, he will knock against the thorns, and they will make a noise, and the shepherd will wake up, and drive off the wolf.”

“That is fine,” I said, “but why does the wolf try to climb over the wall? Here is the entrance to the enclosure; it is open. There is no door to keep out the world; he could easily enter here.”

“Oh no,” said my guide, “you do not understand. That is where the shepherd sleeps, the shepherd is the door.”

And then I understood something that had often puzzled me. It became clear to me why Jesus had in John 10 called himself first the Door and then immediately afterwards the Shepherd. Since he is the Shepherd he is also the Door.

The story above, written by Eric Bishop(from An Easter Sourcebook, 81), about Jesus’ statement: “I am the door/sheepgate,” illustrates the characteristics of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd protects the sheep, knows them by names, and give his life for them.

Little Lamb, A Poem by William Blake

Little Lamb, who made thee? | Dost thou know who made thee? | Gave thee life, and bid thee feed | by the stream and o’er the mead; | Gave thee clothing of delight, | softest clothing, wooly, bright; | Gave thee such a tender voice, | Making all the vales rejoice? | Little Lame, who made thee?| Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee, | Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee: | He is called by thy name, | For he calls himself a Lamb. | He is meek, and he is mild; | He became a little child.| I a child, and thou a lamb, | We are called by his name.| Little Lamb, God bless thee! | Little Lamb, God bless thee!

William Blake, Eighteenth century (from An Easter Sourcebook, 73).

The Good Shepherd, A poem by Henry W. Baker

The king of love my shepherd is, | Whose goodness fails me never; | I nothing lack if I am his, | and he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow | My ransomed soul he’s leading, | And where the verdant pastures grow | With food celestial feeding.

You spread a table in my sight; | Your saving grace bestowing; | And O what transport of delight | From your pure chalice flowing!

And so through all the length of days | your goodness fails me never; | Good Shepherd, may I sing your praise | Within your house forever.

Henry Baker, Nineteenth Century (from An Easter Sourcebook, 75).

Jesus our Teacher: The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Introduction

Parables were one of Jesus’ preferred ways of teaching and sharing the news of the Kingdom of God. They are useful because they employ images that were familiar to the people, but they also spoke to deeper realities as metaphors for what the kingdom of God was like and who Jesus was. In the coming weeks we will continue to explore who Jesus is for using this image. Remember to look at the journal prompts at the end of the lesson.

Objectives

(1.) Children will work with the image of the sheep and shepherd and describe their relationship.

(2.) Over the season of Lent, children will come to see Jesus as the Good Shepherd whose very life is given for the sheep.

Gather

Remind your class that we are observing the season of Lent. If you have selected a discipline for the season, work on that for a bit before moving into the lesson.

Hear the Word

This parable is shared by Jesus in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:1-7.  The context for each is slightly different. The Lukan version has more details about the shepherd and sheep, but older children may like to read and compare both accounts. This parable is well reported in our children’s Bibles; I will lay out several Bibles and children’s stories about the Lost Sheep on Sunday morning. After reading (or telling) the story t0 your class, you might like to share this short video (it’s about 2.5 minutes) with them on an ipad.

Respond to the Word

(1.) Searching for Lost Sheep: Before your class arrives hide a white pom-pom somewhere in your class. While you tell your class the parable of the lost sheep, lay the remaining 99 pom-poms out on the floor. When you are finished, tell your class that you have 100 sheep to count together (our youngest children may need help counting to 100, but most may be able to count to ten, so if 100 is too big, count 10 sets of 10 together). When you get to 99, your class will realize that there is a sheep missing. Start to look around and when you can’t find it, have your class help you find the 100th sheep somewhere in the classroom. Talk about how you left all of the other sheep so that you could find the one sheep that you were missing. Alternatively, you may want to hide 99 pom-poms in your class and then count them up.

(2.) Drawing 100: Divide your class into two teams. Give them a poster size piece of paper and some crayons or markers. Tell them that they are going to race to find all 100 sheep in their sheepfold by drawing 100 of them together. The first team to draw all 100 sheep has filled their sheepfold. When both teams have completed their posters, you can write one of he verses from your reading on top of the poster. If you do this, let me know and I can put it up in your classroom or the commons next Sunday.

(3.) Sheep for hiding: If you are interested in an art activity, you may want to make model sheep like this, this, or this (take a look at the last sheep on this post). Encourage your students to take their sheep home and ask their parent’s to hide it so that they can search for it, like the shepherd who has lost his special sheep. If you do this, please let me know and I can write a brief letter for parents and print it out for you to send home with your students.

(4.) Active Games:

Hide and Go Sheep: Select one of your students to play shepherd,while the remainder of your class wanders and hides from him/her. The shepherd looks for each of the sheep and takes them to a designated sheepfold. When all of the sheep have been found, the game can start over with a different shepherd. 

Sheepfold (like Sardines) Choose one student in your class to hide in the sheepfold. All of the other students look for the other student. Without a word, as each child finds the sheepfold, they join until the last sheep has found the sheepfold. (you may have success playing this game outside).

“Where are my Sheep?” (like Marco Polo): Choose one child to play the shepherd. Blind fold them and spin them around. The shepherd asks, “Where are my sheep?” and each time the other children should say “baaa.” Each sheep the shepherd tags is out and must go sit in the sheepfold.

Journal– Younger children may want to draw a scene or a sheep from our lesson today. Older children may want to write a reflection about the lesson using the prompt “Why does the shepherd leave the 99 to find his/her one missing sheep?” or “I wonder who the sheep could really be?” or “Describe the party that that the shepherd throws for the sheep” or “would you leave the 99 sheep to find one?” etc. The goal of the journals is for each child to have a record of their Lenten reflections. Older children may enjoy reflecting without a specific prompt. You might ask: “What was important or significant to you about today’s story” or “what would you like to remember from today’s lesson?” If you use one of the prayers below from the BCP, your students might like to copy them into their books.

Close in PrayerThis week your students may enjoy this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.

Paragraph 3 of the Venite  (Psalm 95:6-7) found on p.32 reads: “Come let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh that today you would hearken to his voice!”

 

Introduction to Lent

Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Beginning next week, the image of the Good Shepherd will be our dominant image for Lent.

Introduction

As this Sunday is the first Sunday in the season of Lent we will take a bit of a break from the stories about Jesus life so that we may look to the cross, just as Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem” where he would ultimately die. Lent is a season marked by remembrance of the cross and in our remembrance we recall that the life and teachings of Jesus led to his death. We also remember the gracious covenant of God with us in Jesus’ death and in our baptisms. In response to this work of God, we are invited during Lent to practice joyful obedience (often in the form of discipline, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving), a response to the transforming grace of the cross. Living into the season of Lent, and joining Jesus on this journey to the cross, helps us receive the joyful message of Easter more fully.

Sometimes it is difficult to talk about these things with children–death, the cross, and sin–but many of our children are already beginning to encounter and grapple with their existential limits. We want Sunday School to be a safe place for this encounter. This Sunday we focus on the cross and Ashes, but over the next several weeks, our Lenten stories will focus on  the story of the Good Shepherd. For our children, this story (just like the story of the cross) is about the lengths to which the Good Shepherd goes in order to show his love for the sheep. This Sunday, in exploring some of the darker themes of Lent, we are asking: see where we are? This is how far Jesus/the Good Shepherd will go to meet us.

Objectives

(1.) Children will practice and inhabit the season of Lent in our Sunday School Classes.

(2.) Children will be able to share one or two themes from the season of Lent.

Gather

This week, when we gather in the Christian Education Commons we will put away the alleluia banner we made last week (when you come in on Sunday it will be hanging at the front of the room). This year we will put it in a box, with grand plans to bury it somewhere on the church grounds next year. Here is an interesting account of the history of burying the alleluias in case you are interested. During music, we will learn at least one new song. Once you have arrived in your class, you may like sing this song one more time.

Note: There are a lot of different directions that you can take this lesson on Lent. You may choose any of the activities below. All of these are intended to help set the stage for our lessons in Sunday School, children’s liturgy, and the Wednesday night Lenten programming for children. They all work together.  Regardless of the other response activities you choose, please do #4, Lenten Journals as all of our classes will be using these journals to make a book of their Lenten journey.

Response Time

(1.) Practice your Lenten Discipline: If your class has selected a discipline for Lent, spend a few minutes talking about what it means in relation to the season of Lent. One of our classes has decided to take time at the beginning of each lesson to learn the books of the Bible, and another is thinking about collecting tithes for a ministry. Feel free to take time to make the items you will need for this discipline (a poster for the books of the Bible, a decorated mite box, or something else).

If you need help thinking of a discipline, feel free to email me. It is okay if your class decides not to adopt an additional discipline. You may want to select a prayer to use as your closing prayer at the end of each week of Lent instead. One of the activities below may also suggest itself to you as a fitting discipline for your class.

(2.) Gathered crosses: The Lenten journey is all about Jesus’ journey to the cross. Take your class outside and ask them to gather sticks of all different lengths. You can gather as many as you would like, because we can use extras for some of our other activities this season. Using hemp twine (in the supply closet) or purple ribbon, tie a larger stick to a smaller one int he shape of a cross. Attach a longer piece of ribbon or hemp twine to the cross so that it may be used as a book mark in Lenten journals (below). Your class may enjoy making a lot of these crosses (if you have extra, we can share the finished crosses with our younger classes who may find this activity a bit challenging).

(3.) Lent Calendar: After talking about the season of Lent, make a Lenten Calender. You can download and print off the block calendar that is provided here (to fit an 11×17 you will want to blow it up to 129% on your computer) or make your own on one of the 11×17 sheets of copy paper we have in the supply closet. Make sure you leave your group’s calender with your attendance sheet and I will make sure that it gets into your class every week. When you gather on Sunday mornings in Lent, you can count the total number of days in Lent that have passed and mark each day with a cross. This counting exercise may help our youngest children experience the length of Lent and have continuity from week to week.

Bonus activity: Remind your students that Lent started this past week on Ash Wednesday. Mark the Ash Wednesday box on your calendar with a dark cross. Remind or share with your class what happens at the Ash Wednesday service.  We go to church and our foreheads are marked with Ashes in the shape of the cross. The priest said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” This helps us think about Jesus’ death on the cross and even our own. This might be a hard concept for some of our children, but they may understand the significance better by experiencing the movement. Invite your students to find a partner and take turns making the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads. Some of your students may remember that this is the same gesture we make with water when we remember our baptism.

(4.) Lenten Prayer Journals: During Lent, all of our classes will use journals during response time for Sunday School and Godly Play lessons. Each week, our students will write, draw, color, or paint responses to the story. The goal is for each student to take the journal home on Easter morning and have a book that helps them see their Lenten journey. This week, once you have done your other activities, wrap up your classroom time by having your students decorate the covers of their journals (I will put 10 journals in each of your classes and will bring you extra journals if you have more than 10 students).

Younger children may like to color the covers of the journals with markers or crayons and teachers may like to cut crosses from colored cardstock (in brown, blue, or purple). Older children may like to make water color covers (we have watercolor paper in the size of our journals in the supply closet) or cut burlap crosses and paste them on their covers. Please remember to put your students names on the journals. I will make sure the journals get to the right classroom each week. This a bit experimental, but we are going to try it and see how well it works.

Remember to Close in Prayer