By Melinda Shunk
Children's Ministry Coordinator
During the last year, we have worked hard to try new things and reach out to families in new and safe ways, during the pandemic.
Thanks to technology, we have some new tools to do just that. I am not talking about a video or social media live. I am not talking about a bag of goodies that appear on a doorstep or gets picked up. Those are all wonderful new approaches, but what I would like to share with you is an online calendar called www.myadvent.net.
I know you hear Advent and you think we have moved past it and are heading into the new season of Lent. Exactly! This is a website that lets anyone create a countdown that is customized to whatever you are preparing to celebrate. So even though its original creation was for Advent and Christmas, I have customized the countdown that allows parents and their children to take a small moment each day to click the numbered door and look behind the Lenten Countdown door to experience just a few minutes of faith formation.
The UMC Lenten Countdown calendar is an easy way for parents along with their children to learn just a “spoonful.” I use the word spoonful to convey the image of spoon-feeding just a little bit of faith formation each day. This is nothing tasking, nor does it give a parent another to-do task, unless they want to make it bigger.
The link created allows the family to access it on their personal electronic device whenever it works for their family. That time could be while sitting in a drive-through waiting for their carry-out dinner. It is really that simple.
The calendar starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The first four doors explain common Lenten spiritual practices. The second week shares different approaches to prayer. The third week teaches parents and children how important play is when we learn stories from the Bible. In the fourth week, families are given simple opportunities to create together. The fifth week brings light to Jesus’ teaching about how to serve others. The sixth week is a week of listening for God’s love. Holy Week is a combination of all six weeks.
Of course, you can go to the link above and create your very own countdown for Lent/Easter or any other fun event in the life of the church. I could even see this being used during the week of Vacation Bible School as a way for families to review what was learned each day.
You may be thinking, “I’m currently overwhelmed and think this sounds great for another time but yesterday was Ash Wednesday so I don’t have time!” Don’t lament; the Lenten Calendar is here for you to use.
Just copy and paste the link below into any email or text group for your church members. You can also include a quick note that describes its purpose, such as “This is a Lenten Countdown Calendar link for your family. You click on the link and it takes you to numbered doors. Click on the doors in numerical order with your child each day from your device. You will receive a quick and easy faith formation opportunity in less than three minutes.”