by Kelly Soifer
Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter.
Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. (Therefore there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter!) Many people choose to fast (give up something important in their daily lives) during Lent as a way to be humble before God. In other words, by sacrificing something we deem important for a period of time, we are reminded each time we want to use or do that “thing” that we are to depend more on God than the thing we are sacrificing.
Lent is a season that reminds us to “repent” (turn our lives back towards God) and get our lives centered, our priorities straight, and our hearts clean. This holy season offers us a new chance to say “yes” to the Lord who created us, who made us in his own image. Lent is the time for a restoration project that will reveal the beauty of God’s design for us, showing once again the scale, proportion, and priorities intended by our Maker.
Finally, Lent is a season of hope—as we pray through it, we go forth to love and serve. For by God’s grace in Christ, we do not have to stay the way we are. Take some time as a youth group to praise God for the new life we can have in Jesus Christ:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! —2 Corinthians 5:16-17
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.