Your Question: Lent & Easter for non Christian families
This week I was asked by a friend on Facebook: “I’d like to start introducing the children to Christianity but no idea where to begin. I thought pancake day/lent/ easter would be a good place to start. Do you have any recommendations for a family of non-Christians?? I have a good understanding of the Bible/the faith (my mother is Catholic) but H thinks I’m making the whole thing up lol.”
It’s a bigger question than I could answer on a Facebook reply, so here are my thoughts:
Introducing Christianity is a big topic, so I would recommend starting with stories. Stories are great and fun and useful to explore whether you believe them or not. Jesus is a historical character, so the Easter and Christmas stories are good stories for everyone to know about his life, along with his teaching and miracles. The Christmas and Easter stories are featured in lots of children’s books, so depending on the age of your children, you might like to share the stories together from a children’s Bible rather than a translation. I would recommend The Big Bible Storybook for 0-5s (here’s a list of various children’s Easter books I like for under 5s) and the Jesus Bible Storybook for 5-10s. When reading the stories, I would say that this is what Christians believe, but rather than focusing on the belief aspect, I’d explore the stories, asking open-ended questions like:
- I wonder which part of this story you like best.
- I wonder which part of this story is the most important.
- I wonder if there’s part of this story we could leave out and still have all the story we need.
- I wonder where you are in this story.
I would then also provide 3 different open-ended invitations to play with after doing the story, eg nice wooden blocks and wooden people (a combination of construction and small world), play clothes for den building or dressing up, picnic blankets, cloaks etc, and some canvases with pens and washi tape for a nice art opportunity or sticks, string and masking tape for a little structural engineering. I wouldn’t give ideas on what to do with any of them, but just set them up in a nice, inviting way and ask them if they’d like to work with one of them after you’ve done the story and wondering questions.
These are questions that help us develop spiritually, however old we are. It’s something we all need, space and time to reflect and think about big things in life, who we are and where we fit into the big story of life. This can be done wherever you are in terms of your faith. You don’t have to have lots of answers, just provide good space to explore.
The other thing I might introduce would be some experience of some of the rituals or activities Christians do at different times of the year, for example, I might take my children to an Ash Wednesday service as part of Lent, or to a Lent service where they have an Advent Wreath. You could do your versions of these at home, for example having a candle for Advent and lighting it each evening and taking a couple of minutes to say thank you for things you’re thankful for (see here for some ideas).
There’s so much more I could suggest, but I think this is an easy starting place.