Lent with Kids, Week 1: Jesus is Wise

The pancake party was great fun, and we now have a seven-candle candelabra set up on the dining table – I am so rocking Lent! Well, the first three days of it, anyway…

Hannah, Georgia and pancakes!

Hannah, Georgia and pancakes!

Now comes the hard part, for someone like me. I love ideas, so planning and designing our Lenten practice has been delightful. The execution and follow-through is a whole nother thing. So thanks for hanging out here and giving me plenty of external motivation to get these posts out.

For a run-down of what week 1 is all about, see the Getting Ready for Week 1 post. I was going to recap it all here, but decided against it – do let me know what you think, though, because the format of the posts is evolving and I’m keen to make them useful.

My current idea is to put all the mechanics and lists in the ‘Getting Ready’ posts each week, and then do another post each week like this one, focusing on the content of the lectionary text and the spiritual formation going on in our households. What do you think?

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The lectionary text for this coming Sunday is the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert.

In this story, Satan tries to derail Jesus from the hard, brave path of obedience that he has chosen to walk. Three times, Satan bargains with Jesus and offers him a choice. Three times, Jesus chooses the better, harder path.

Many of you will hear a sermon on it this Sunday, perhaps along with your kids. It’d be great to hear your own thoughts, and those of your church community, as many of us wrestle with the text over this coming week. I’m preaching on it twice, at two different churches!

Here are a few key points I think are significant about this text, that you might like to weave into your week of focusing on Jesus’ wisdom:

  • The Holy Spirit is a key player before, during and after this passage. The Spirit comes down on Jesus at his baptism, leads him into the desert, and fills him as he heads out into his work in Israel. What’s the Spirit’s role in your own practice of wisdom?
  • Jesus knows his Scripture pretty well, and is able to calmly ignore or rebut Satan’s faux reasoning. The Orthodox focus on increased public reading of Scripture during Lent might give us a kick-start in becoming more familiar with the Bible ourselves.
  • Satan tempts Jesus to use his power over nature for his own comfort and convenience (‘turn this stone into bread‘). Contemplating this may lead you and your household to take some wise actions to help look after the natural resources you have influence over.
  • The hard, unglamorous work of obedience and wisdom Jesus musters up in this text lead him to the fireworks and world-changing glory that start in the very next text.

I am keen to point y’all to some good kids’ Bible adaptations of the text each week, but they are hard to find for the temptations. Presumably because one of the stars of the show is Satan, it seems to be an unfashionable story to tell to children. Fair enough.

At Mainly Music this morning, my two-year-old was upset not by the tarantula toy itself (he likes bugs) but by the leader pretending to be frightened by it. I don’t think he’s ready for Satan taunting Jesus.

The lingering thought I want to leave my son with from this week’s text is that Jesus is wise, and through Jesus and the Spirit, we can learn to be wise too.

Some of the best learning we did as a family at Advent was when my husband and I had to break down concepts like ‘hope’ into phrases our son could understand and repeat. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the wisdom that is the theme for this week, coming from this text. So what does it mean to be wise? I settled on ‘knowing what to do, and then doing it.’ What do you think?

With that in mind, if your own bookshelves and retelling skills don’t supply you with an age-appropriate version of the temptations story, you might like to look at other stories about Jesus that show wisdom.

The Candle Bedtime Bible that I’ve recently been looking at with SBJ has a thoughtful, reading-between-the-lines retelling of the 12-year-old Jesus staying behind in the Temple to talk with the priests. I thought it might have far too many words and not enough pictures, but SBJ was rapt, so I guess it’s fine, and we perhaps shouldn’t underestimate how grabbed kids might be by the stories we ourselves know well.

Other gospel texts which are often found in kids’ Bible story collections, which could be relevant for this week include:

  • Jesus recruiting the disciples, who needed to make a wise and brave choice to leave their businesses behind and learn from a new teacher.
  • Anything from the Beatitudes or Sermon on the Mount which tells us how Jesus taught us to treat each other.
  • Any healing story (Jairus’ daughter, the paralysed man lowered through the roof, the blind man) where someone has to (wisely) ask for Jesus’ help. It’s a wise thing to know when you need to ask Jesus for help.
  • The fishermen catching more fish than they expected. Sometimes doing what Jesus asks seems silly but is actually wise.
  • Peter trying to walk on water: being wise and brave, and trusting Jesus, is hard work, and sometimes we fall down. Jesus will pick us up again.

There are lots of helpful links and resources in the other Week 1 post and the comments below it, and the next post in this series is all about fostering wisdom at home with kids. Also, here are a few extra links to things that could be helpful.

I’m really very keen for your feedback. It will shape the coming weeks. So please do leave a comment below letting us all know what works and what doesn’t in your context.

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This is part of a Lent series that will take us right to Easter. If you want to follow along, you may like to sign up at the top of the sidebar on the right to get an email whenever there’s a new post.

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4 comments on “Lent with Kids, Week 1: Jesus is Wise”

  1. Pingback: Sacraparental Lent 2014: Quick Guide | Sacraparental

  2. Pingback: Lent with Kids: Getting Ready for Week 1 | Sacraparental

  3. Pingback: Lent with Kids, Week 1: Wisdom at Home | Sacraparental

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