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
Lenten Family Devotions: (Storyboard) - check out [this website](https://storyboardingchurch.wordpress.com/2020/02/14/lenten-family-devotions-2020/) for a creation devotional entitled [Lions, and Camels, and Goats! Oh my!](https://storyboardingchurch.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/lions-and-camels-and-goats-oh-my.pdf) that runs from 23 Feb - 13 Apr. It’s simple to do and takes 5 minutes to read the daily devotional, ask the question, and then pray. You can use this devotional while you eat dinner, lunch, or breakfast together, in the car, or before bed.
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.
Fasting from, Feasting on Ideas (Building Faith) - some great ideas for [fasting from and feasting on](https://buildfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Fasting-From-Feasting-On.pdf) for Lent
- practical ideas to fast from with matching ideas to feast on
- suggestions for how to use these to grow spiritually
Praying through Lent (Praying in Color) - various different [calendar templates](https://prayingincolor.com/tag/lent) to use for a daily prayer practice.
Lent Giving Calendar (My Faith, My Life) - this [Giving Calendar](https://myfaithmylife.org/giving-calendar-2020/) (note you'll need to translate the references to US coins...!) helps families:
- be attentive to, and give thanks for, the abundance of our lives
- engage in the practice of giving out of thanksgiving for that abundance
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