Daniel 9:3-5 Ezra 8:23
Apologies for the lack of lesson last week. Between technical difficulties and illness it has not been a good week at sundayschoolsos headquarters. Thankfully the illness has abated and the technical difficulties are fixed enough for us to resume normal service, albeit a little late, in time for Lent.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the forty day period (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, where ashes are placed on the foreheads of Christians as a sign of the cross to remind them of Christ’s death and to remind us to turn from sin to God.
Lent does not strictly appear in the Bible so this week’s reading is from the book of Daniel verse 9:3-5. Here we see the Bible set precedence for the use of ashes in repentance.
You will hear a lot of people asking each other what they’ll be ‘giving up’ for Lent. Traditionally people would fast for Lent. If you have young children present ask them if they know what fasting is? Fasting is when we only eat certain foods at certain times.
A lot of people give up chocolate for Lent, but the important part of Lent is to spend a lot of time in prayer. If we give something up we should replace it with time spent with God.
We use the forty days of Lent to repent of our sins and bring ourselves closer to God. It is a time of deep, personal prayer, where we strip away all the clutter of our lives. For many people this is things like chocolate or unnecessary things. By making our lives simpler we can make more time to spend with God. Ask the children if they can think of some things that might distract us from prayer? You’ll find some interesting answers coming out!
Instead of giving up things, we can take something on. Instead of watching an hour of television after school, or playing a video game, or going on facebook why not cut that time in half and spend the time we’ve saved praying or reading the Bible?
Here’s a worksheet you can work through with your children, it folds into a handy bulletin for them to take home to remind of them of what they have learned in the lesson. Ash Wednesday Worksheet.
On the worksheet there is a section for charity or ‘alms’. Why not ask the children if this is an aspect of Lent they’d like to take on as a class? Every week they might want to put aside some of their pocket money (leaders too!) instead of buying something for themselves like a chocolate bar (or in my case cherry coke) and bring it to Sunday school instead (we’ll be making an appropriate craft later). At the end of the month you can pick a charity together that can benefit from your Lenten alms.
– As the discussion was quite a long one to make your alms jar you can start by printing out a net for each child, ideally onto the strong paper or thin card. If you prefer you can have the children draw out the net themselves 5cmx5cm.
– Loosely fold the net together, mark a slit along the ‘lid’ large enough to put some coins through. You might have to cut it out for the children as it can be quite fiddly.
– Have the children decorate the box with the colouring pencils. They might want to write the word ‘Alms’ on it or the name of the charity you’ll be donating too or even drawing the things that you’re going to give up on it.
– When it is decorated stick the edges together et voila!
You will need:
Glue or tape
Thin card/strong paper (ideally, but normal a4 paper will suffice).
– Instead of the alms box you could make this alternative. Follow the instructions as above, but instead of putting money into it, the children will be putting ‘prayers into it’. Decorate the box with appropriate Bible verses about committing prayers to God, or about God’s love, (e.g. Philippians 1:4, Ezra 8:23, Psalm 54:2, Matthew 21:22).
– The idea here is that instead of money the children use the box to write prayers on slips of paper and drop them into the box. Whenever they put something in the box they are releasing it to God and should pray about it as it goes into the box. It can be something they are worried about, or thankful for or for someone who needs praying for. Every now and then the box will need to be emptied. Remember to read over the prayers and offer thanksgiving where God has answered the prayer or continue praying if it needs it.