Lent, Earth Day, and Baptismal Promises to Children and Youth
In our congregations we make pledges to care for the young people in our midst. For some of us, these are promises we make to infants-in-arms at their baptism; we become surrogate aunts and uncles of faith and promise to care for them as they grow. For others of us, these are promises we make as children come to their own sense of faith and are welcomed into church as believers based on their own confession. And, for still others of us, we hold some of our youth in prayer and love while they wander fairly far from the font that welcomes them to faith.
What does it mean to you this Lenten season, as we approach Earth Day, that we are an intergenerational Body of Christ, having baptismal promises to keep to our children and youth? In our church and in the natural world, what is the place for them? Christ’s body includes wiggly, wriggly young bodies and questioning, curious youth.
How will we keep our baptismal promises to them and be blessed and challenged in our interactions with them? Are we exploring with our children and youth any simple, concrete messages of what Lent can mean for us?
There are relevant, fun, and meaningful actions that we can share with our children and youth to connect Lent to earth-care. Encouraging and sharing a creation-care commitment with our young people is one way to help them (and us) connect daily life practices of faith to a larger spiritual context (Lent).
I’d love to see children and youth (and adults too!) who not only know that the Table is dressed in purple because of Lent or that we’re saving up all the “alleluias” for Easter; I’d love to see young disciples who also say that because it is Lent, we must do some things differently in our daily life. We’ve got to get to work! Action is a part of our Lenten preparations.
What earth care actions will we share with our children and youth this Lent? Will we encourage their Christian formation (as we have promised) by letting them know what they can do for God’s creation as part of faithful discipleship? We can remember, alongside them, that all Creation groans for redemption and we can work to spread the good news to all the world through eco-friendly actions.
Right now we have a great opportunity to encourage and share with children and youth Lenten disciplines that care for God’s earth—like recycling that bottle or reusing that grocery bag. We adults in the congregation or family can share with children and youth that, because it is Lent, we will rejuvenate our efforts to conserve energy, save water, consume less, and appreciate the outdoors more. Some of us might even take up a specific Lenten practice like the “Carbon Fast” Lenten devotional from Presbyterians for Earth Care (presbyearthcare.org).
When our children and youth use both sides of the paper, decide they can wait on that purchase, take a shorter shower, or enjoy the outdoors, they also are participating in Lent in real ways and can be recognized and praised for it. May we be mindful in observing these kinds of earth-keeping practices as families and congregations. May we celebrate the Lenten earth-keeping ways that help us as an intergenerational Body of Christ to prepare for the com-passion and resurrection that draws closer.
At The Thoughtful Christian we feel that Earth Day should be longer than twenty-four hours. Through April 24, we're celebrating Earth Day with downloadable group studies and retreats, and books at great discounts.
Each week we will be featuring Rebecca Barnes-Davies's book 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference. It will be 50% off and each week we'll provide an excerpt so you'll be able to read one of the "50 ways."
We will also have a new theme each week. Click on "Week Three" below to see this week's featured resources.