Lent, the forty-day period before Easter, is set aside as a season of soul-searching and repentance. The forty days of Lent reflect Jesus’s withdrawal into the wilderness for his own time of spiritual reflection and preparation for his sacrifice on the cross. At Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia, we invite families and groups to spend time together in preparation for the celebration of Easter with suggested devotions, prayers, and activities.
Families and groups really appreciated this activity as it was a way for them to draw closer while actively participating in something together.
Last year, we invited families and groups to decorate a cross as a Lenten activity. Crosses were cut from 4’ x 8’ foam boards (purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot) in two sizes. Starting Ash Wednesday, following our evening service, these crosses were given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
We asked families and groups to sit down together and reflect on what Easter means to them. They were then asked to decide as a group how the cross should be decorated. Options included paint, decoupage, glue, 3D materials, and almost any other medium. The cross could be simple or elaborate, somber or colorful. Crosses were decorated on the front as well as the sides, leaving the backs undecorated. The crosses were returned to the church, with a family or group name on the back, two weeks before Easter so they could be displayed in time for Easter Sunday. Following the Easter season, families were invited to take their crosses home with them.
In our instructions, we encouraged families and groups, in age appropriate language, to share the story of Holy Week using scripture verses in the later chapters of all four Gospels. We encouraged discussion of questions such as:
- What does Jesus mean to you?
- What does this cross mean to you personally?
- How does your group’s cross reflect Jesus’s love for us and the sacrifice he made for us?
Families and groups really appreciated this activity as it was a way for them to draw closer while actively participating in something together. Once the crosses were hung in the church narthex, it was amazing to see all the different styles, colors, and techniques used to celebrate the Easter season. People used paint, gems, flowers, fibers, carvings, and more to represent their feelings and thoughts. Some were done by children while others were done by Bible study groups. We also had crosses decorated by a Girl Scout troop and a group of homeless individuals spending time at the church. This was a fantastic community event that everyone could enjoy no matter how young or old and no matter their artistic ability.
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