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What is the meaning of Lent?

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To reflect on the practice of abstinence during Lent.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need for some children to practise reading the poem ‘Abstinence’ (see Step 3) to read it out in the assembly. You might like to choose 2, 6 or even 12 pupils for this.
  • Display the poem on a whiteboard during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.


  1. In the Church calendar, Lent is a season of 40 days before Easter. This is a time for Christians to stop and reflect on the attitudes of their hearts, priorities and spiritual life as they prepare for Easter. There are special services held in churches during Lent, special times of prayer and special readings from the Bible.

    In the Early Church, there were also strict Lenten laws to help with this ‘spiritual spring clean’. It was suggested that to abstain from all meat and animal products was a helpful discipline. All the body needed was a very simple snack in the evening.

    Nowadays, many Christians still consider it helpful to give something up during Lent as a reminder of the sacrifices Jesus made, the temptations he resisted during his time in the desert and that they are reflecting on the important things in life. Many people give up eating chocolate or biscuits or watching TV or playing computer games. Others try to make more time in the day to think about God and pray.

  2. This is also the time of year for spring cleaning our homes. This has come to mean that the house is thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom, under the beds, on top of the wardrobes, all the curtains, even rugs are lifted and beaten outside. Mums and dads want to get rid of all the dust and dirt that was only barely tickled during the long, cold tiring months of winter!

  3. This season of Lent might therefore be a good time for all of us to attempt a spring clean of our lives. There may be attitudes that need to be dusted down, habits that need a deep clean or behaviour that it would be a good idea to be given up. 

    We will now listen to a poem that will help us reflect on some of the things we might like to address.


    Today I’ll give up grumbling and complaining,
    Instead I’ll be thankful for all that I have.

    Today I’ll quit worrying about the ‘if onlys’ and ‘what ifs’ of my life,
    Instead I’ll trust that God knows and cares for even me.

    Today I’ll stop criticizing all those around me, 
    Instead I’ll take a good, long look at my own faults.

    Today I’ll refuse to use the words ‘I’m bored!’
    Instead I’ll be grateful for a brain, and for education, and for every opportunity to learn.

    Today I’ll give up speaking unkindly and negatively,
    Instead I’ll make an effort to use positive words and to be an encourager.

    Today I’ll abstain from my mobile phone, my computer, my DVD player and all e-mails, 
    Instead I’ll practise the art of talking to my family and my friends,
    . . .  or I might just eat chocolate!

Time for reflection

Display the poem ‘Abstinence’ on a whiteboard.

Did any of these things ring true for you?

Are you willing to make any changes? Remember, only you can change you! 

Dear God, 
We are approaching Easter time, a time when we will hear again of all that Jesus resisted and gave up for us. 
Help us to take time to look and consider how we want to live our lives. 


‘We are climbing Jesus’ ladder’ (Come and Praise, 49)

Publication date: March 2014   (Vol.16 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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