Lent is a period of time (40 days, not including Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, where he prayed and fasted, endured temptation and prepared to begin his ministry.  We use this period of time to prepare for Easter, to re-focus our lives, so we can grow closer to God. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ.  Like Jesus, we all need to take time to pray and listen for God. Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart. You and your family might try one of these practices for Lent:

FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that’s not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from sweets, television, soft drinks, or electronics as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation.  What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God?  What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do? (Check out this article for ideas on Family Time Lenten Sacrifices.)

SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ.  You can collect food for the needy, volunteer, commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend everyday of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God.

PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can pray while you walk, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.

Here’s a devotion you can do tonight with your family.

Wash
“Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and celebration again;” Psalm 51:7-8a (CEB)

Reflection
Guilt vs. Grace: We have all dealt with the feeling of guilt. Guilt is a feeling of knowing that you have done
wrong and there may be some type of punishment/consequence coming. But, God always offers us grace. Grace is God’s unearned and unconditional love, a gift given before we do anything good or bad. It is through God’s grace that we understand the guilt is not from God, and if we turn towards God’s love through grace we can move beyond our guilt and sin.

Discussion
Have you ever been playing outside on a really hot day? You were sweaty, sticky, dirty and maybe even a little bit stinky! Or maybe you spent the day at the beach and you were full of sandy grit and sunscreen? You really were in need and wanted a shower or bath! Why was it so great to take that shower or bath and get clean? How is God’s forgiveness like that really great shower or bath? How do you feel knowing that God’s love and forgiveness are always with you even when you have done wrong?

Connect Activity: Sand Prayer
Supplies: Sand, tray or sandbox to hold sand (could also use salt if sand not available)
Using a sand box or a small tray with a layer of sand. Take time to write the things you feel guilty for in the
sand. As you are doing this, talk to God about why you feel the way that you do and ask for God’s grace to
wash over you. When you are ready, move your hand in the sand over your writing and watch your guilt be
washed away by “God’s grace.”

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