I’m always being asked for my “Top Ten List” on a variety of topics. Since Lent is just two short weeks away, hopefully you’ve already made your plans and spread the word to those in your congregation. But just in case, these are my top picks (a mix of perennial favorites alongside some new offerings) for a variety of ages and stages to take along on the Lenten journey. Download Church Publishing’s Lent 2015 catalog for more ideas.
What We Do in Lent: A Child’s Activity Book. Designed for children four to seven years old, Anne Kitch’s gentle text explains the seasons of Lent and Easter through 41 pages of coloring and solving puzzles as the reader builds their vocabulary and walks with Jesus to Jerusalem. Perfect for home use (it has a parent guide) or to place in children’s worship bags with a box of crayons.
Skiturgies: Pageants, Plays, Rites, and Rituals. These inexpensive pay-and-download offerings include many Lenten, Holy Week, and Easter choices for engaging children in worship, classroom, or program settings. The Stations of the Cross for Children by Linda Weaver includes a script for including six stations inferred from the biblical account. Original icon artwork (in color) is included for these stations, as well as icons that represent the Episcopal Church’s traditional fourteen stations. The Way of the Cross for Children by Kim McPherson offers a meditation, reading, or description at each station (based on the Book of Occasional Services) with activities along the way that are experiential and sensory, using objects for hands-on reflection.
For youth (who might enjoy these adult programs):
Christ Walk: A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program. Lent is the perfect time to focus on one’s health – spiritually as well as physically. After reading Anna Fitch Courie’s daily devotion, put your walking shoes on to log some miles on your journey. Challenge yourself (or your youth group) to take match your footsteps with Moses or Jesus on one or more of their journeys. Learn how to use a pedometer and put it to use as you reflect on walking with Jesus toward a healthier lifestyle.
What Wondrous Love: Holy Week in Word and Art. Featuring the colorful and detailed artwork of John August Swanson, this DVD and Study Guide of six individual ‘chapters’ (sessions), scholars from Duke University discuss the events of Holy Week based on a Scriptural passage and the detailed paintings with reflective questions for group conversation.
Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey through Lent. In the view of St. Benedict of Nursia, the Lenten journey is an inner pilgrimage with Christ into the deepest part of ourselves, to be marked no so much by external observances, such as fasting and self-denial, as by a deepening of our relationship with God. Benedictine monk Albert Holtz guides us with his Lenten reflections by applying Benedict’s monastic practices to our modern circumstances. Journey Through Lent on a Pilgrim Road is an accompanying 40-day poster of scripture and prayer from Ash Wednesday through Easter week that can be purchased in bulk to give to your families to follow at home.
Living Well Through Lent 2015: Practicing Resilience with All Our Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind. Living Compass brings us another booklet of daily devotions to help make Christ our “living compass” from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday. Make copies available to everyone in your congregation. For group study, download a free program guide, along with prayers for daily use in Lent, at http://www.LivingCompass.org.
For all ages:
Growing Together: Sacred Celebrations for Spring and Summer (Volume 2). This volume contains chapters focused on Mardi Gras Carnival and Lent filled with background material, key ideas, and a checklist for each celebration, including session plans with activities and descriptions. A quick pay-and-download puts all of them immediately at your fingertips for using throughout the season. No need to look further for those Lenten activities!
Passion Play for Good Friday is part of the Skiturgies collection. Gordon Graham intersperses the Passion Narrative (John 18:1-19:42) with short dramatic scenes, Passiontide anthems, solos, and congregational hymns. In churches where there is no choir, all the music can be sung by the congregation and/or solo voices. The aim is to engage as wide variety of people as possible (including children) in the observance of Good Friday. There are roles for clergy, readers, choir, soloists, acolytes, actors and congregation.
This posting first appeared on Building Faith (January 21, 2015), where you’ll be able to find many more ideas and resources for Lent.