Talking with Children about Lent

Talking with Children About Lent

Believe it or not, there’s more than one calendar in the world! The church calendar is an annual schedule of holidays and seasons that mark certain events or seasons both in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus, and in the faith experience of his followers.

The church calendar was devised as a teaching tool during pre-literate times so that every year Christians who could not read Scripture for themselves were walked through and learned important facts about the work of salvation that Jesus had accomplished for them.

One of the seasons on the church calendar is Lent. Lent is the season that precedes Easter. It’s a season that you’ve probably heard about before. But why do Christians mark this time as special during the year?

Lent is a season 40 days long that reminds us of Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness during his temptation by the devil. The Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this time in Jesus’s life. You can read about it here. It came right before he started his public ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing.

During his 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus fasted (went without eating), prayed, and meditated on God’s Word and on the mission his Father had called him to fulfill. That mission included teaching and preaching about the plan of salvation that God had for his people. But the bigger part of the mission was that Jesus, the only Son of God, was going to die himself on a cross in order to pay for the sins of his people—and then after being dead, he would return to life on the third day after his death (that’s the resurrection, which we celebrate on Easter).

Jesus’s mission was a huge mission—the biggest there would ever be—and he wanted to prepare for it in this special way. And so during Lent, many Christians remember what Jesus did for them and for the world in a special way by focusing on Jesus’s teaching, and on his suffering and death on the cross.

Many Christians also use the season of Lent to remember why Jesus came and died to save them—because of their sin. And, they devote themselves to a process of repentance—which is loving God, resting in his forgiveness through Jesus’s work on the cross, and turning away from sin and sinful temptations.

So, during Lent, Christians often give up things as a reminder of Jesus’s fasting in the wilderness. Some of the things we tend to give up are bad habits (like cursing, smoking, overeating, and so on)—but we also give up things that keep us from turning to Jesus and enjoying his presence in the first place. Some of those things could be dependance on technology (like cell phones), social media, TV, or streaming.

There’s no requirement to give up anything for Lent. But some people do because they want to follow Jesus’s example of not allowing anything (even eating!) come between them and their relationship with God. People who choose to give something up for Lent often choose to fill that time with Bible reading, prayer, or just being silent before the Lord, to draw closer to him.

There are many ways to observe Lent. Here is a resource you might find helpful to walk you through some of those different ways. It was developed by Alyssa and Stephen Wood from Liberti River Wards Church in Philadelphia and is a Lent and Easter Guide for Families. You can click here to go to the page on the Liberti River Wards website where you can download the booklet as a pdf for free! (Just click on the link, go to the page, and then click the button that reads “Download Family Guide.”

Lent is a time to remember what Jesus has done for everyone who believes in him. But it’s also a time to be transformed as we practice repentance and drawing near to God!

Our sincere thanks to Liberti River Wards for sharing this resource!

The Results Are In: Christian Education Pays Off!

Our work at Children’s Jubilee Fund has always been very focused. We provide tuition-assistance scholarships which enable low-income Philadelphia-area students to attend the K-12 Christian schools in our network. And we take the Christian school aspect of our mission seriously.

Why? Two reasons. First, we want our students to intentionally encounter Jesus.  We want them to get to know him and his people through being in our Christian schools. And as they get to know and build relationship with Jesus, they also get to experience the world through a Christian worldview—understanding creation, people, society, work, and relationships all through a distinctly Christian lens.

And second, we know that the education that our students receive in our network schools is typically a better quality education than they would receive in the public schools they’d otherwise attend. Because our network Christian school teachers and staff serve out of a sense of mission and love for their students, they offer intangible benefits that many public schools aren’t able to consistently provide.

What are those intangible benefits? Things like conflict resolution that moves toward repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. An understanding and compassionate ear from teachers and staff when a student is discouraged. Extra, one-on-one assistance when a student needs help understanding a particular academic concept or skill. Encouragement to seek and rest in the Lord when hard things in life happen.

And prayer. Prayer throughout the school day, and prayer when hard things happen in or out of school.

We’ve seen the results since Jubilee began 25 years ago: 95% of Jubilee scholars graduate from high school (compared with 69% for Philadelphia public school students), and 90% of twelfth-grade Jubilee scholars enroll in post-secondary education (nearly half of Philadelphia public high schools have college enrollment rates lower than 60%).

But that isn’t the end of the story. This week, a New York Times opinion piece quantified the benefits of Christian faith to helping students succeed in school. A researcher from Tulane University looked at 3,290 American teens and their academic journeys. The results in this article are encouraging—students with a Christian faith typically had better grades in high school, and were more likely to complete high school and move on to college than their unbelieving peers.

These are the kinds of benefits we see in our network Christian schools, only we believe our results are even better than those reported in the Times piece.

Our ability to help Philadelphia-area students depends on the generosity of people who believe in our mission and are willing to support it through their financial gifts and prayer. Would you consider supporting Jubilee today and making a difference in a child’s life forever? Thank you!