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The Christian festival of Lent

To consider the meaning of the Christian festival of Lent.

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider the meaning of the Christian festival of Lent.

Preparation and materials

  • Large card with ‘Be prepared’ written on it.

  • A number of cards on which are written situations which need some advance preparation, for example, going on holiday; a friend staying for a sleepover; taking a ballet exam; playing in a football match; participating in the Olympics; a school play.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children what they did before they came to school this morning. As each suggestion is made, ask for a volunteer to come to the front and mime that action – waking up; getting out of bed; getting dressed; having a wash; eating breakfast; packing a school bag; brushing teeth; putting on coat, gloves; walking to school, etc.

    Eventually, ask all the children who have come to the front to carry out their actions at the same time.

    Pretend you are surprised at what a lot of ‘preparation’ has gone into their simply arriving at school!

  2. Ask if any of the children are in the Scouts or Guides (years 5/6). What is their motto? (‘Be prepared’) Ask a child to hold up the card with ‘Be prepared’ written on it. (Brownies have a different motto – ‘Lend a hand’.)
  3. Ask for a volunteer to hold up the first of your situation cards. What preparations would they need to make for that event? (For example, before going on holiday, they would need to book somewhere to stay, maybe book a flight, pack, arrange for someone to look after their pets.)

    Discuss each card and then ask what would happen if no preparations were carried out.
  4. Today we are thinking about Lent. Lent is when Christians remember a time of preparation that Jesus went through.

    For 30 years Jesus had lived at home in Nazareth. At the age of 30, he knew that he was about to start his public work. He was about to start teaching people about God and doing many amazing miracles. He knew it would not be easy and that eventually it would lead to his death.

    In preparation for this work, Jesus went off on his own into the desert for 40 days. For 40 days and nights he didn’t eat or drink anything and during this time he was tempted to do a number of things that he knew it was wrong to do.  

    Jesus didn’t give in to the temptations and didn’t do anything wrong. At the end of 40 days he left the desert and began the work he had come to earth to do. His time in the desert had prepared him for this work.
  5. Lent is the period of time that leads up to Easter; it begins on Ash Wednesday (the day after Shrove Tuesday when traditionally pancakes are cooked). Lent lasts for 40 days (it doesn’t include Sundays) the length of time that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his work.

    For Christians, Easter is the most important time of the year as it is then that they remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because Christians want to ‘be prepared’ for the celebration of Easter ,they use Lent as a time to think more about God, go to special church services and pray.

    It is hoped that Lent may focus the minds of Christians on God, and also help them to think of others who are not as fortunate as they are.
  6. As part of Lent, Christians often give up something for 40 days. This is to remind them of the time when Jesus went without food in the desert. Examples are giving up chocolate or biscuits, or not watching television.

    In recent years there has been a move towards doing something good during Lent instead of giving something up. Examples would be tidying your room; saying something encouraging to someone every day; making your bed; doing homework without complaining!  

Time for reflection

Can you think of something special that you could do during Lent that would help someone else?

Maybe you could use the time to help raise money for people in another country who are not as well off as we are.

Maybe you could decide to give someone a compliment each day!

Experts tell us that if you do something for 40 days it will become a habit that you do automatically without thinking about it! Wouldn’t it be good if Lent helped you carry on doing something positive for the rest of the year!

Prayer
Dear Lord,
thank you that in the busyness of life there are times to stop and to think.
Help us never to be so busy that we don’t have time to be peaceful and silent.
Thank you for times such as Lent
that remind us to think about you
and to consider what we can do to help those less fortunate than we are.
Please help us always to ‘be prepared’ to help other people.
Amen.

Song/music

‘One more step along the world I go’ (Come and Praise, 47)

Publication date: February 2013   (Vol.15 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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