Why I Did Lent With My Kids

Over the last 40 days or so, I’ve thought a lot about the death of Jesus.

And so have my kids.

Yesterday we were at the lake and my son threw a cross-shaped piece of wood in the water and exclaimed, “Jesus is dying on the cross!” My daughter has been drawing the crucifixion on her chalk board. We attended our church’s Ash Wednesday service together. On Friday we walked through the stations of the cross together (my son only made it through the first 3). We’ve been reading bedtime stories about guys named Judas and Pilate.

I’m either sick or brilliant .

Here’s what I’m thinking: so much of our “Christian education” is targetted exclusively at the mind. We (rightly) want our kids to learn this and memorize that and repeat this correct answer. This is good but it’ll die sometime in early adolescence if they have not also experienced God. There’s a big difference between understanding something and knowing it.

I want my kids (and the kids of our community) to grow up feeling the wood of the cross, sensing the darkened hush of Good Friday’s worship. I want them to know the pang of disappointment when we abstain from certain foods on Fridays. And I want them to delight in the sweet burst of flavor when we indulge in what God has given again on Sundays.

For years I’ve shared life with teenagers for whom church was an irrelevent bore. Asleep in the back row. Disconnected and unaffected.

Maybe I’m still too young. Maybe I’m still too idealistic. But my dream for my kids is that by the time they reach middle school they’ll be too in love with a Jesus they’ve experienced as far too real to write-off as irrelevent…or boring.

Yesterday my daughter and I were talking about Easter and about how it rained so hard all morning. “It feels like it should always be sunny on Easter, doesn’t it dad?” she commented. “You know, since Jesus came back to life?”


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