Today I want to talk about some simple ways you can observe Lent as a family. Similar to my post about Advent traditions, this post will be full of ways you and your family can observe the season of Lent as we all look toward His glorious resurrection on Easter Day!
Give “Allelluia” a break
When I was younger, I thought all Christians stopped say “Alleluia” during Lent.
Then I was in homeschool choir with mostly non-Lutherans, and they couldn’t understand why my one Lutheran friend and I were so excited for it to finally be Easter so we could say “Alleluia, He is Risen!”
While it’s certainly not a sin to say the word Alleluia during Lent (hey, lots of us have to sing it in choir practice anyway), it can be a good way of reminding ourselves that not all the seasons of the church year are times of celebration.
As LSB #417 puts it,
Alleluia cannot always
Be our song while here below;
Alleluia, our transgressions
Make us for a while for-go;
For the solemn time is coming
When our tears for sin must flow.
“Bury” the Alleluia
This can be a tactile way to illustrate the absence of the “Alleluia” during this season.
I had actually never heard of this tradition until this year when a couple people I follow on Instagram starting talking about it.
Basically, the idea is that you take something that says “Alleluia”, like a banner, sign, or wooden letter blocks, put it into a box, and bury/hide it. If they weather is nicer or you have a waterproof container, this can be done outside, or it can be hidden somewhere in your house.
Then, on Easter, you get to uncover the Alleluia just like when Jesus’s tomb was opened.
Go to Lenten Midweek Services
Starting with your church’s Ash Wednesday service (so, today if you’re reading this post on the day it was published), you can make a point to go with your family to your church’s Lenten services in addition to regular Sunday services.
These services can serve as a reminder to pause and reflect on the season.
Listen to Lenten Hymns
Music is a great way to remind ourselves of Christ in our homes throughout the day, no matter which season of the church year we’re in.
A few of my favorite places to find liturgically-fitting music include:
- Lent playlists on Apple Music, Google, or Spotify
- Lutheran Public Radio
- CDs/Albums (physical or digital) based around the seasons of the church year
Pick a Lenten hymn to sing
While we tend to be very familiar with Christmas and Easter hymns, Lenten hymns often get forgotten.
You probably know at least a couple, even if you don’t realize it.
This Lent, consider choosing a hymn that you don’t know (or at least don’t know very well) and sing it together as a family throughout the Lenten season. Start with one verse and gradually add the rest.
By Easter, who knows, you might even have the hymn memorized!
Read a Lenten Devotional
Lots of churches tend to have these available for families to pick up and use as their family devotional during Lent.
My church is doing one called “Into His Death and Resurrection“ by Steadfast Lutherans.
If you don’t already do devotions as a family, Lent can be a good time to start that! While traditionally Lent involved some giving up (see the next point), you can also add something that you wish to start doing.
My friend Kara over at On Cornerstone Street has a wonderful post on doing family devotions during Lent, so be sure to check it out! She has a good list of Lenten devotions if you need any ideas.
When you add something that helps you focus on Christ throughout your day, it helps you stay focused on Lent and why He came to die.
Give something up
Like I mentioned in the last point, most people associate Lent with fasting from something, or giving it up for a time.
This can be an awesome way to put our focus on Christ and His suffering instead of on ourselves.
Some ideas for things you could give up (or limit) include:
- Specific types (chocolate, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, etc.)
- Specific times (no snacking, eat during specific hours, etc.)
Note on the food section, if you’re pregnant or nursing, maybe limited a specific type of food would work better than not eating during specific times.
Giving up something for Lent can give you more time to do something else such as reading your Bible or praying, and thinking about the thing you’ve given up can serve as a reminder to do those things you’re adding into your routine during this season.
Decorate your house
Just like we decorate for Christmas, we can decorate (or rather, undecorate for the most part) our houses to reflect the solemn nature of the season.
Ideas for this include:
- Covering crucifixes
- Taking down anything that says “Alleluia”
- Adding some purple and/or black to your home decor
When Easter comes, you can then switch out the decorations or put them back and decorate with white and gold. These colors always seem so cheery after a month and a half of black and purple.
Make a Lenten Cross
I really want to make one of these this year to go with our Lenten devotional. This follows the same idea as an Advent wreath. You just arrange the candles (usually black or purple) in the shape of a cross.
Instead of adding a candle each week, you can subtract one so that you only have one candle lit by the time you get to Good Friday.
I knew I wanted to find something to set in the middle of our table to remind us about Lent just like we did in Advent, but in I didn’t know how exactly I wanted to do it. That is, until I saw a couple of Lent crosses on Instagram.
So, because I’m really on top of things (not!), tomorrow I’m going to look for some candles we can use when I’m in town to get some groceries.
#DomesticLent Photo Challenge
Okay, so this one may not be as directed toward the whole family, but you can certainly get everyone involved.
Also, this probably won’t work if you choose to give up social media for Lent. Though I suppose you could print off the list and take the pictures anyway without posting them.
Concordia Collective on Instagram is putting on a #DomesticLent photo challenge from Ash Wednesday until Easter. She has different prompts for each day, including ones that relate to the readings on Sundays.
I haven’t done a photo challenge in awhile, but I think this one will be a cool way to connect with others throughout the season.
I hope this list of ways to observe Lent as a family has given you some ideas you can use to focus on Christ throughout this season as we await His resurrection on Easter Day.
God’s blessings on your Lenten season!
How do you observe Lent as a family? Do you have any traditions?