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
How do we teach the joy of giving in a cultures that says having more stuff is what makes us happy?
This [World Vision article](https://www.worldvision.org/christian-faith-news-stories/top-5-ways-raise-generous-child-age) provides some helpful ideas and suggestions for children in the below age brackets:
- pre-schoolers (ages 3-5)
- school-age children (ages 5-11)
- teenagers (ages 12-19)
There are also additional helpful articles linked from this article including:
- [What does the Bible say about generosity?](https://www.worldvision.org/christian-faith-news-stories/what-the-bible-says-about-generosity) (World Vision article)
- [5 things that happen to your body when you’re generous and give](https://www.worldvision.org/charitable-giving-news-stories/5-things-happen-body-give) (World Vision article)
- [What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy](https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/05/01/what-generosity-does-to-your-brain-and-life-expectancy) (US News - Health)
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](https://www.corouniting.org/d/3d20e9Brp45vBns2wXo8h0pit) for a brief summary of Halloween including:
- The link with All Hallows/Saints Day
- Why some people dress up as ghouls etc.
Halloween: FAQs (Scripture Union) - check out [this article](https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/story/halloween-faqs) for answers to the following questions:
- Where did Halloween come from?
- Should I be concerned that Halloween means children are getting involved with occult practices?
- My child want to celebrate Halloween with their non-Christian friends. What should I do?
- How can I show God's love this Halloween?
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](https://www.barnabasinchurches.org.uk/pdfs/sidebysidewithgod_halloweenspecial.pdf). It includes:
- Notes for adults
- Bible passages
- Wondering questions
- Things to chat together about
Redeeming Halloween: How Should Christians Approach Halloween? (intoxicatedonlife.com) - [this article](https://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/redeeming-halloween) 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:
- A brief history of Halloween
- Caveats to redeeming Halloween
- What does redeeming Halloween look like?