Article by Joanna Simmerman
Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. Lent is a 40 day time of preparation, of getting ourselves ready to welcome and receive the resurrected Jesus into our lives on Easter Sunday. Lent is often a time of sacrifice. A time when people chose to give up something that they enjoy or feel entitled to so that they can focus their attention on Christ and share, in their own way, with the sacrifice that he made in going to the cross for us. Lent can also be a time of focus, choosing to give time and attention to developing a better relationship with Christ and with our neighbors.
To help youth get the most out of this season, I like to make scratch-off Lent calendars for my church. These calendars have a daily activity that is designed to help youth get the most out of this season of Lent by bringing them closer to God and their neighbors. I usually give these out to the whole congregation for each family to take one, but most of the activities are specifically designed for youth. These calendars take a bit of work so unless you have a small group, you will need to recruit some volunteers to help or have a special time when the youth make their own calendars and then take them home to use.
First you need to make your calendar. I start with 40 activities that are a mix between a food related fast, a social media or entertainment fast, a Spiritual activity, a way to connect with/show love to your neighbors, and doing good deeds.
Next you print out your calendars and attach them, along with a heading explaining how they are to be used, to scrapbooking paper to give them a sturdy and decorative border. For the scratch-off paint to work you must have a slick surface under it, so I like to cover the calendar with contact paper. You can also use tape on just the activities for each day or a laminating machine if you have access to one.
Now it is time to paint your calendars. To make the scratch off paint you need to mix two parts metallic paint to one part dish soap. Paint over the activity for each day but make sure to leave the date visible. You might have to use more than one coat of paint until you cannot read the activities underneath.
When you hand out your beautiful calendars, make sure to explain to the youth that each day they should scratch-off the paint and then do the activity listed for that day. I like to also use Facebook or some other form of social media to follow up each day with a short explanation of why that day’s activity can help draw youth closer to God or their neighbors and provide a space for the youth to talk about their experiences with that day’s activity.
Below is an example of a calendar made for Lent in 2014