I don’t know how your pandemic is going, but mine’s involved a LOT of rethinking around faith formation, and one of the best things to emerge from this reluctant bout of creativity has been…THE KITS.
It started last spring, with a Holy Week Kit that my church staff assembled when it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to gather in-person for Easter. We threw in the eco-palms that faithfully showed up even though Palm Sunday would be digital worship only. We added tealights for an at-home Tenebrae service for Good Friday, tiny jingle bells for Easter Sunday, and a handy graphic to invite people to physically engage with our digital offerings. It worked pretty well.
So then we kept it going with an Advent Kit…but we expanded the idea to include one kit for households and then another just for kids, full of crafting activities. That worked pretty well too; even if people don’t use everything in the kits, they seem to appreciate that the church is in their lives, in their homes. The kits are a tangible sign of connection in a time when a lot of our communication has to be virtual.
Now we’re in the process of preparing Lent Kits. But we’re far from the only church doing this—in fact, Pastor Emily’s church has grabbed the idea and added their own spin. That’s one of the nice things about kits: they’re endlessly customizable to your context.
Is your church doing a Lent-in-a-Bag or Lent Kit this year? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear what you’re up to. In the meantime, we hope this provides a little bit of inspiration.
Pastor Emily’s approach:
Simple, elegant, thematic
Rather than focus on weekly scriptural themes, Em’s Lent-in-a-Bag’s are going to focus on the themes of the Lenten season. She’s using Building Faith’s “Lent-in-a-Bag” article as a starting point.
Coupled with this, Em is also encouraging folks to create a holy space in their homes to make room for prayer and reflection throughout Lent. Again, Building Faith provides great suggestions.
What I love about the direction Em is taking is that both of these resources are geared especially for families with young children, but also feel intergenerational (damn, I need to make a Lenten prayer space in my home! In fact, I might use those suggestions from Building Faith and incorporate them into a midweek prayer service that I lead for adults in my context.) And because these ideas are linked to the season rather than the text, they could become recurring traditions in the household. Yay traditions!
My church‘s approach:
Crafty overachievers with a surplus of popsicle sticks and paper plates
In my context, our amazing Christian Education Director, Sam Menapace, is ALL OVER this project. We’re going for two types of kit: an intergenerational household kit, and a scripture-themed children’s kit. (One household kit for each household, but one kid kit for each kid.)
Household Kit contents:
- The shoe-in is the Lenten Devotional, which is written every year by members of the congregation. It’s a ridiculous undertaking, and I’m so glad we do it. (If you’re looking for a free, ready-to-go Lenten devotional, check out Barn Geese’s!)
- We’re also including strips of paper with the names of different families in the congregation on them. Each day in Lent, people are invited to make a link in a paper chain and pray for the family on that day’s strip of paper.
- Bless This Mess cards from The Salt Project
- Some tea bags to go with the tea ceremony recommended by the Bless This Mess cards
- Some ashes for Ash Wednesday, and at-home imposition rite (I’ll post this once it’s written)
- A guide we’ll write up about the contents and how we recommend using them.
The Children’s Kits
- An Alleluia banner to color and hide (we thought about painting and hiding Alleluia rocks as well).
- Crafts corresponding to the Old Testament texts for each week in Lent (we include all the supplies that they might not have at home):
- The children’s kit also includes Holy Week materials:
Did I mention how amazing our Christian Education Director is? She’s amazing.
Packing up the kits will be an outdoor volunteer event in early February, because here in New England, weather-related brinkmanship is an abiding cultural value.
OK, you’ve heard what we’re up to, and now we’d love to hear what you’re doing! Are you thinking of doing a Lent Kit for your congregation? What considerations are at play? Where have you found the most helpful ideas? Post below or on Facebook or Instagram!