The challenge of Lent for children

Imposing ashes on the foreheads of people on Ash Wednesday is one of the powerful experiences of priestly ministry. Looking to the eyes of an elder for whom those words take on one meaning and a young adult for whom they might mean something very different provides an opportunity to think of the whole spectrum of life and how we address the issues of our own mortality. Yet the most profound experience happens when a mother or a father comes forward with young children and even infants and presents them to receive ashes and to hear those words spoken over them: "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return."

How do we unpack the profound message of Ash Wednesday and the themes of Lent for our children? That question is the topic of what promises to be a creative and innovative workshop at St. John's on Saturday, March 16 from 9:00 a.m. until Noon. The Rev. Stefanie Wilson and Missy Morain will present an interactive workshop providing tools for families to explore not only the Lenten theme of death, but also repentance, forgiveness, prayer and fasting all in the context of the journey to resurrection and new life.

In collaboration with St. Matthew's Church, Pacific Palisades and the Diocese of Los Angeles, the workshop will offer several hands-on stations where various ideas will be experienced by the whole family. A variety of books and other resources will be available to view as well, not just about Lent, but about teaching faith to children generally. Stefanie believes that getting resources in the hands of parents and families is a crucial element in the Christian formation of children since parents are the primary educators for children as to what Christianity is all about.

Every family will take home a "Lent bag," with resources including items that can be placed on the family table to use as teaching tools children can hold and physically experience. We are excited about this amazing workshop. We strongly encourage everyone with children or grandchildren to attend. We hope you invite your friends with children to come along as well. It's a great way to introduce us all to some of these central, but challenging themes of the season. Attached to the Weekly Update is a clear and informative info-graphic developed by Missy on the Season of Lent. RSVP to the event here so that we can make sure we have enough materials. A light breakfast and lunch will be served.

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