Halloween: Good or Bad?
Halloween can sometimes cause confusion amongst Christians - is it something to avoid or is it not really all that bad? Hopefully these resources will be helpful for you as you think about your own approach with your children.
Halloween Information Sheet (Grow Ministries) - check out this article for a brief summary of Halloween including:
Halloween: FAQs (Scripture Union) - check out this article for answers to the following questions:
Trick or Treat? Side by Side with God in Everyday Life - Halloween Special (Barnabas in Churches) - if you're after something to step you through thinking about Halloween and how to respond as Christians, then check out this article. It includes:
Redeeming Halloween: How Should Christians Approach Halloween? (intoxicatedonlife.com) - this article explores whether there is a middle ground in the approach to Halloween using three options: receive, reject or redeem. It settles on redeeming the festival and covers areas such as:
What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is the day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can read about this in the Bible in [Acts 2:1-13](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A1-13&version=NIRV). Pentecost is 50 days after Easter (10 days after Jesus' Ascension) - you could say it was the church's birthday with over 3,000 people becoming followers of Jesus on the one day!
Some helpful resources for your family
Note that this page seeks to provide ideas and resources for Pentecost only and not the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, including the gifts and fruits of the Spirit.
Pentecost (Strandz) - check out [this website](https://www.strandz.org.nz/pentecost.html) for a huge number of ideas to help you celebrate Pentecost, including:
- [A Pinterest page](https://www.pinterest.nz/Strandznz/pentecost/) - loads of ideas of crafts, colouring sheets, baking and decorations!
- [Celebrating Pentecost](http://kidsfriendly.org.nz/wp-content/Uploads/Celebrating-Pentecost-2015.pdf) - a resource full of activities and ideas - from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand
Pentecost crafts to make with your kids:
- Make your own [Pentecost Flames Salad Spinner Art with prayer ideas](http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2014/04/pentecost-flames-salad-spinner-art-and.html) - a fun and messy craft to do with your kids for Pentecost
- Do some colouring in with this [Pentecost Colouring Page](https://whatsinthebible.com/activity-library/pentecost/)
Talking with your kids about Pentecost - the below articles provide ideas for talking about Pentecost with your kids in age appropriate ways that don't freak them out!
- [3 Teaching Points for Pentecost](https://buildfaith.org/teaching-pentecost/) (buildfaith.org) - a helpful article highlighting that Pentecost was the 'birth day' of the church, that it showcases the Trinity and that it shows that Jesus kept his promise
- [God Sends Help](https://youtu.be/SCVceyp7IdI) (The Jesus Storybook Bible) - an animated re-telling of the story 'God Sends Help' read by David Suchet
- [Talking about the Holy Spirit with your kids](https://whatsinthebible.com/what-is-the-holy-spirit-book-of-acts/) (a video from What's in the Bible?) - Phil Vischer talks about how we can talk with our kids about the Holy Spirit right through the Bible, not just at Pentecost...
- [How to teach kids about the Holy Spirit](https://www.gatherandgrow.co/family-faith-building-teaching-kids-holy-spirit/) (gatherandgro.co) - some really helpful suggestions including Bible verses that talk about what he does
- [Come Holy Spirit: 3 Prayers for Pentecost](https://buildfaith.org/come-holy-spirit/) (buildfaith.org) - some wonderful ways to pray in the home, providing insights into the role of the Holy Spirit today
- [Pentecost cartoon worksheet](http://cartoonchurch.com/cartoons/worksheets/pentecost_pdf.pdf) (cartoonchurch.com) - a bit of fun although a little abstract as well... :)
- [The Holy Spirit](https://youtu.be/oNNZO9i1Gjc) (a video from The Bible Project) - best for older kids and youth and traces the person of the Holy Spirit right through the Bible
- [What is Pentecost?](https://whatsinthebible.com/what-is-pentecost/) (What's in the Bible?) - a helpful video and article covering the origins of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit Today and Talking with our Kids about the Holy Spirit
Making Pentecost special this year - some ideas for helping to make Pentecost 'a thing' and avoiding it just passing you by:
- [Pentecost Playdough Mat](http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2014/04/pentecost-play-dough-mat.html) (Flame Creative Children's Ministry) - a practical and fun activity for younger kids including questions for thinking and prayer ideas
- [Flame Finger Labyrinth](http://www.strandz.org.nz/uploads/4/6/5/9/46590535/finger_labyrinth.pdf) (Strandz) - a simple and helpful way of thinking, listening and praying
- [The Day When God Made Church](https://paracletepress.com/products/the-day-when-god-made-church) (Paraclete Press) - a great book from our church library - read the first part of it online in PDF format [here](https://s3.amazonaws.com/supadu-imgix/paracletepress-us/pdfs/excerpts/EX-9781612615646.pdf)
Advent - a time of preparation
There are many different ways of marking Advent at home. The resources listed on this page are intended to provide some ideas that you could use in your family, and so help your children (and yourself) prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world.
The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide (Sally Lloyd-Jones) - check out [this article](https://www.faithgateway.com/jesus-storybook-bible-advent-calendar-printable/) for what's in this resource, including:
- Illustrations from The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Bible verses and reading plan for each day
- Instructions for making the calendar
The Jesse Tree (whychristmas.com) - check out [this article](https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/jessetrees.shtml) for more information about Jesse Trees.
- The photo above is one made with our children throughout Advent in 2017.
A Simple Advent Journey for the Family (refocusministry.org) - a simple [Christmas "Advent"ure](https://refocusministry.org/2016/11/17/a-simple-advent-journey-for-the-family/) with a "Reverse Advent" theme...
- This Advent Season, gather your family each day for a moment to read a Scripture, say a prayer, or do an activity [listed here](https://refocusministry.org/2016/11/17/a-simple-advent-journey-for-the-family/) and add to your “Reverse Advent” basket (you'll need to click the link to find out more...!)
Growing Faith at Home (growministries.org.au) - some weekly ideas from the Lutheran Church (see their [Home User's Guide](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/lx31KJYprtA1V42AtuEJFKbEv)) based around the four keys of Caring Conversations, Devotions, Rituals & Traditions and Service...
- [Advent 1 (2 December 2018)](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/Qe0pEEE33HTpVLEDLbZJ54wQT) - The Coming of Jesus
- [Advent 2 (9 December 2018)](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/fu0M8unKu6Dhi4zC5kUiovSgA) - Prepare the Way
- [Advent 3 (16 December 2018)](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/7PWWPqRcMNX7juBluEL40WgPj) - One More Powerful is Coming
- [Advent 4 (23 December 2018)](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/uVoMalkD8Hm14NQ4CqzO0fJ6m) - Love Comes to Life
- [Christmas Eve & Christmas Day (24 & 25 December 2018)](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/pm4cCTa3k8bmh1ylUGLiGQtPD) - The Gift of Jesus
- [1st Sunday after Christmas (30 December 2018)](https://corouniting.org.vinteract.com.au/d/bknINK357QSZY0RMJPQZ0Jcev) - My Father's House
What is Lent?
Lent is the period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) immediately prior to Easter Sunday. It is traditionally a time of repentance and renewal of faith in Jesus.
Why 40 days?
Good question! The number 40 is significant in the Bible, usually referring to a period of testing or trial, eg.
- 40 days of rain when Noah and his family were in the ark ([Genesis 7:17](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+7%3A17&version=NIRV))
- 40 years of the Israelites wandering in the desert ([Exodus 16:35](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+7%3A17&version=NIRV))
- Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness ([Matthew 4:1-11](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+4%3A1-11&version=NIRV))
What's with Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and Ash Wednesday?
'Shrove' is from the verb 'shrive', meaning to confess, ie. to admit all the things that you have thought, said and done that are wrong. In French this is Mardi Gras - 'fat Tuesday', and for Spanish-speaking people it is Carnival which may have originated from the Latin carne vale, meaning 'to farewell meat' (often given up during Lent) or even 'to say goodbye to the flesh' (possibly giving rise to the modern day trend of giving up something you enjoy during Lent).
In earlier times, many Christians would fast from eggs and milk for Lent; using these up before Lent gave rise to the cooking of pancakes, and hence 'Pancake Day'. This also gave rise to the tradition of giving eggs at Easter when the fast was broken (see [this article](https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2010/february/how-fast-of-lent-gave-us-easter-eggs.html) for more details).
Ash Wednesday is when ashes (often from the burned palm crosses from the previous Palm Sunday) would traditionally be worn, symbolising grief or shame (see [Esther 4:1](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=esther+4%3A1&version=NIRV), [Jonah 3:6](https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jonah+3%3A6&version=NASB)). This marks the start of Lent, a season of repentance from our sin and humble acknowledgement of our own mortality and dependence on God.
Some helpful resources for your family
Lent + Easter (Strandz) - check out [this website](https://www.strandz.org.nz/lent--easter.html) for a huge number of ideas to help you journey through Lent:
- [Intergenerational Lenten Study: 'A Pilgrimage of Grace'](https://www.strandz.org.nz/grace.html) - something to talk about, explore, thank and watch each week
- Lots of links to videos and various Lent and Easter resources
Lent: A Journey to Easter (Anglican Diocese of Auckland) - check out [this website](https://lent.nz/welcome) for an interactive Lent calendar:
- Readings and Activities for each day of Lent, split into weekly chunks
- Content from various authors and artists
Lent: What do Christians remember during Lent? (RE:start) - check out [this website](https://request.org.uk/restart/2014/06/05/lent/) for a whole series of pages relating to Lent and Easter:
- Shrove Tuesday: What do pancakes have to do with Easter?
- Lent Today: How are Christians learning to 'do Lent generously'? See [40acts.org.uk](http://www.40acts.org.uk/) for more info.
Lent and Easter: Ideas to use at home (Barnabas in Churches) - if you're after some practical ideas that connect with our faith, then check out [this article](https://www.barnabasinchurches.org.uk/find/all/ideas/1/lent/). It includes:
- A reflective story of Jesus' temptations
- Countdown to Easter - stories form the Bible to take you through Lent
Family Lent Ideas (Flame - Creative Children's Ministry) - [this blog post](http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/p/family-lent-ideas.html) (or [this PDF](https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0RweH-3RyI0ZXNFOE85TVFuN3c/view)) have fun, simple and creative activities for each day of Lent, such as:
- Play dough prayers
- Blessings jar
- Various baking activities