Lent in a Bag

An Activity for Church or Home

For families with youger children

Adapted from tools created by Shawn Schreiner and Vicki Garvey

"Might there be a stony place in you that needs transforming? Some attitude or habit that with a little attention might even become a gift for you and others?"

What is Lent in a Bag?
We have discovered that distributing small bags with symbols of the season assists individuals and families in practicing Lent at home. In addition to the items, we include instructions, and reflections (on purple paper of course) to go with each item.

Choose one night of the week and invite those around your table to pick one of the symbols as a starting point for conversation for the whole group, including children. You may share reflection about only one of the symbols at a time or about all of them, depending on your family's needs.

Find inside the bag a sealed baggie of sand. Allow the sand to run through your fingers again and again. Include the following (or similar) reflection:

     • What do you notice about the sand? How does it feel?

Adult or older child: In the Bible there are many stories where people go into the desert. Moses and the people of God were given the 10 Best Ways (10 Commandments) while in the desert. The 10 Best Ways showed the people how much God loved them and how they could love each other because of God's love. After Jesus was baptized he went into the wilderness or desert himself. When he was there a voice spoke to him and invited him to turn away from God. Jesus said no because he felt most safe and loved when he was with God.

     • When do you feel most safe and loved?
     • How does God show you God's love?
     • Is there a place where you feel His love the most?
      (In your bed with your blanket? At the beach? In the woods/your backyard?)

Find inside the bag, a rock. Hold the rock in one hand and then the other. Include the following (or similar) reflection:

     • What does the rock feel like? What do you notice?

Adult or older child: There are many stories in the Bible about people forgetting about God's love. Sometimes the Bible says people had "hard hearts." When we forget about God's love we can make poor choices and hurt ourselves and others. This can make us feel hard inside. When we say we are sorry the rock inside us begins to soften and we feel love again.

     • Share a time when you said you were sorry to someone. Did it make you feel better?
     • Share a time when someone said they were sorry for something they did to you.
       How did you feel then?

Human Figure
Find the wooden figure inside the bag. Hold it in your hand. Use the following (or similar) reflection:

Adult or older child: Jesus was a person just like us! He knows what it is like to be us and understands us. He knows we are each capable of great things, Godly things. And no matter what we do, he keeps on calling us to join him in bringing God's love to everyone.

     • Share one way you can bring God's love to a member of your family (i.e. draw
      them a picture. Help them clean their room. Give them an extra hug. Tell them
      they are loved by God and by you, etc.)
     • Share one way you can bring God's love to a person outside your family (i.e.
      draw the mail-carrier a picture. Help a friend pick up his toys after a playdate.
      Give a teacher a hug, etc.)

Find inside the bag, a candle. Hold the candle. Include the following (or similar) reflection:

     • How does the candle feel?

Place the candle in a safe container and light it.

     • How does the light change the candle?

Adult or older child: Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." Jesus' light can never go out. Even if we can't see it, Jesus' light is in us. Jesus tells us not to hide our light.

     • Sing, "This Little Light of Mine."

Lenten Prayer: Fast From, Feast On

During Lent, let us...

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ within them.
Fast from emphasis on difference; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from worry; feast on trust in God's Care.
Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.

                    William Arthur Ward 
     (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994)