How one family takes a meaningful look at misdeeds and then, at Easter, redemption
Posted in , Feb 12, 2018
Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 14 this year), is the annual period of prayer, fasting, repentance and self-denial that is intended to prepare a Christian for the holy days of Passion Week, culminating with Good Friday, Silent Saturday and Easter Sunday. Christians of many traditions and denominations mark the Lenten season by skipping meals, forgoing some habit or pleasure, reading a daily devotional, etc. Some churches offer special services, classes or prayer experiences during Lent.
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But one family I know does something during Lent that I think is simultaneously meaningful, beautiful, educational, participatory and—eventually—fun, even for the younger children in the household.
Each evening at dinner during Lent, my niece Elissa and her husband Sean conclude their meal with a short family time together. They spend time in Bible reading and prayer in the mornings, but after dinner they and their two young children spend a moment writing on a slip of paper something they’re sorry for, something for which they want to ask God’s forgiveness. They fold the paper without sharing it or showing it to each other—it’s a private confession, after all. Then they place their “confession” into a plastic egg and put the egg in a basket or bucket on the dinner table.
They follow this daily practice throughout Lent, watching the colorful plastic eggs accumulate and, with them, their awareness of their own need for forgiveness. Long before Easter arrives the eggs fill the basket and come close to overwhelming the table display.
But Easter comes and with it dawns redemption. The basket on the table is empty, and the papers in the eggs are gone, too, emptied (without looking) and destroyed by Mom and Dad. Each member of the family finds those same eggs in their own Easter basket, but the papers are gone. The sins are forgiven and “redeemed,” replaced with “coupons” for extra privileges or activities such as a special lunch date with Mom or Dad, an ice cream treat, etc. (another option is to use candy, small toys, or money).
It seems to me to be a perfect way to pray during Lent—even if you have no children in the house—and to drive home to our hearts the truth that “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV). Sure, it means buying 40 plastic eggs (and maybe a basket, bowl or bucket of some kind), but that is a small price to pay for the daily reminder that, because “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20, NIV), “The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).