"For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me ... Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."
(Matthew 25:35, 40)
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is a day for us to examine our lives and to ask for God's forgiveness for our sins. Lent is a season to prepare our hearts for celebrating Easter. Through the centuries, common Lenten disciplines have included:
- Fasting — Denying oneself food or restricting the amount of food eaten.
- Abstinence — Denying oneself specific types of food during Lent.
- Almsgiving — The practice of giving money sacrificially.
Choose a ministry that could benefit from financial assistance. The children could select a local mission project or some international concern, such as the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia.
Ask the children to decide individually ways in which they can gather money to help support the chosen ministry. Remember that the focus for attaining money should be on the Lenten practice of denial. For example, if the children ask their parent(s) to buy potato chips and soda each week, they could ask their parents to set aside money for the chosen ministry instead of purchasing chips and soda. If older children regularly attend movies or rent videos each weekend, encourage them to set the money aside for the chosen mission instead of spending their money on movies or videos. If the children have access to additional income through an allowance, challenge them to consider giving part of their allowance too.
How much money could be raised if the children denied themselves some things during Lent? Discuss the ways in which they could raise money for a ministry by giving up some thing or some activity. Guide the children in selecting those practices that they are willing to abandon during Lent. Make it clear that they do not need to stop doing everything they enjoy. Let them know that it pleases God when we voluntarily deny ourselves so that God's work can prosper.
Provide the children with individual containers for their contributions. Invite the children to bring their contributions to church on Easter Sunday. Plan to have a special celebration after the money is collected and counted. Be sure to share the good news with the congregation through a verbal announcement and an article in the church newsletter.
Dear God, thank you for the many blessings you have given us. Help us to deny some things and to save our money for others. We thank you for this season of Lent. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
- What does denying ourselves and sharing our resources teach us about being good stewards?
- Is it easy to deny ourselves some things? Why would God want us to deny ourselves some things during Lent?
- What might you learn about yourself during Lent this year?