This month’s Junior Church was all about Lent, which started this Wednesday.
After the initial hymn we all headed down to the Brixworth Centre for the warm up. It is definitely cold enough to still be winter but we spotted the first tell tale signs of spring on our walk. Some of the bushes are beginning to bud, and the Snowdrops are out and in display.
Once we were at the Centre then we had some fun exercises to start. Everyone loved playing Simon Says, and hopping on one leg across the room. Well, the parents less so!
Then, it was over to the mat to look at the theme for this month, which was Lent – and giving things up.
It is difficult sometimes to move from the happiness of Christmas and to start thinking about Easter already, and it feels like no time has passed until we are at Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and into Lent.
What is Lent..?
Lent is a period of time that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.
It is traditionally associated with fasting – which is giving up food – but nowadays it can also mean giving up something which means a lot to you.
But, why do we do this anyway..?
We do this because it is period of reflection, and because Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights before he started preaching. This period is known as the Temptation of Jesus because he was tested three times during this time.
The Temptation of Jesus
The temptation of Christ is detailed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. According to these texts, after being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the Judaean Desert. We learnt that during this time, a nasty person appeared to Jesus and tried to tempt him three times with bad things. Jesus, having refused each temptation, the nasty person then departed and Jesus returned to Galilee to begin his ministry.
Luke’s Gospel tells us this:
Luke 4:1 – Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
and Matthew tells us this:
Matthew 4-10 – Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
We discussed giving things up that we like, whether we could resist being tempted – and that it can be really hard.
Some of us have decided to try and give something up for Lent. Anthony has decided to give up Crisps for Lent, and that is really difficult for him! Edward decided to give up sleeping (much to the horror of his parents); Jo has decided to give up red meat, Lenette is fasting, and Dominic has decided to give up moaning!
Then, we had a short prayer for Lent.
On this Sunday, Lord help us to enjoy and give thanks to you for the bounty you provide for us and remind us to share your gifts with others. And as Lent begins this week, prepare our hearts and minds to reflect upon the temptation of Jesus for 40 days and nights and what that means for us. Amen
We then looked at how people across the world commemorate Lent accordingly.
The tradition of marking the start of Lent has been documented for centuries. By the time of the late Middle Ages, the celebration of Shrovetide lasted a week or more before the start of Lent.
We looked at a famous painting from 1559 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Fight between Carnival and Lent) which shows the Shrovetide celebrations just as Lent begins. It is a great painting with lots of detail and interesting things to look at and everyone was interested.
The English Tradition – Pancake Day
In England, Shrove Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday is also known as Pancake Day.
Pancakes are commonly eaten on this day as they, in Christianity, symbolise “four pillars of the Christian faith–eggs for creation, flour as the mainstay of the human diet, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.”
Since foods such as butter, eggs and fat are discouraged from being eaten during the Lenten season, Christians use these ingredients during Shrovetide to make pancakes or other rich foods. The specific custom of Christians eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday dates to at least the 16th century.
Along with its emphasis on feasting, another theme of Shrove Tuesday involves Christians repenting of their sins in preparation to begin the season of Lent in the Christian calendar.
In many Christian parish churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, a popular Shrove Tuesday tradition is the ringing of the church bells (on this day, the toll is known as the Shriving Bell) “to call the faithful to confession before the solemn season of Lent” and for people to “begin frying their pancakes”
The Spectacularly Awesome Grand Junior Church Pancake Race
On Pancake Day, “pancake races” are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning!
The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running.
The pancake race at Olney traditionally has women contestants who carry a frying pan and race over a 415-yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants must toss the pancake at the start and the finish, and wear a scarf and apron!
So, we decided that our Junior Church would have it’s first ever Pancake Race! We lined up across the hall, and ready, steady.. GO!!
Alex was the winner the first time, and Dominic the second.
The grown ups also had a go and in a photo finish Jo pipped Lenette to the post!
This was enormous fun, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Afterwards, we had a go decorating sweet pancakes to take home with us (Note: these were different to the ones which had been on the floor…..) and we produced from very artistic pancakes!
Finally, a wordsearch for Lent.
Then it was back up to Church for the final Hymn, and then some well earned juice and biscuits. It was proclaimed ‘The Best Junior Church Ever” by the kids, the fact there were sweets and pancakes was we think the deciding factor..
Join us again next month!
Growing Saints is our Junior Church here at Brixworth. If you would like to know more, please get in touch. We meet on the third Sunday of each month and offer friendly & fun activities for infant & primary school children (4+). You are welcome to accompany your child with us if you prefer, or stay and enjoy the main service!