Live Justly for Lent: for Families

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This past year, as new parents, my spouse and I have been figuring out how to raise our family and also find time to continue serving God. In our church, we have been learning about being a family on mission. As parents, it can get complicated choosing between spending time with our family or serving God; or trying to find the time for both our family and serving God, while keeping the two separate. But God has designed us to be a family that is on mission together for him and with him. As author Mike Breen says, “a family on mission empowers us, because we learn to live an integrated life moving forward in mission as a pack, as a covenant family with a kingdom mission.” It is exhausting doing family sometimes and mission other times. It can be freeing to learn to be a family ON mission. Jesus didn't minister to others by himself; he had a family of disciples with him. Jesus knew that you couldn’t function without a family to be on mission with. Therefore we are called to be on mission as a family (blood relatives and friends). This week, I encourage you to be intentional about serving others with your family so you can practice being on mission together. As a parent, it is important to disciple your own children on how to be on mission with and for Jesus.

Here are some ideas that you can do as a family to be on mission together. Feel free to think of your own as well.

1. Be a Disciple to your Neighborhood

These days you see fewer and fewer children playing out in the front yards. People drive in and out of their garages without having to see their neighbors. Society today has become about staying inside our homes. My husband and I recently moved into a new neighborhood, and found it hard to socialize with our neighbors. So now we intentionally make an effort to talk to our neighbors whenever we can. This week, challenge yourself to get to know a family in your neighborhood a bit better. Invite a neighbor over for a meal. If you aren't able to invite them over, bring food or a dessert to a neighbor you don't talk to often. God calls us to show hospitality through fellowship over food. Jesus led by example by eating and ministering with his disciples and the people he met along his way and we are called to do the same.

2. Learn about your Indigenous Neighbors

Before Europeans settled in North America, the land belonged to Native Americans and Aboriginal Canadians. Indigenous people lived here before we all did. With your family, do some research to see what group of Indigenous people live(d) in your area, and then discuss the history of residential schools and the Church. Pray for reconciliation and healing between our Indigenous neighbors and us, and pray for our governments and their decisions about policies around Indigenous people.

3. Serve your Local Community

In a previous post (Live Justly for Lent: for Busy Parents), the author identified five groups that have been marginalized by the Church (people who are LGBTQ, people living in poverty, immigrants and refugees, returning citizens, and people with disabilities). After listening, seeking to understand, and praying about each of these groups, I challenge your family to pick one of them that you can begin to serve on a regular basis. Whether your family starts to make a difference in the life of one person or one family, God will be working in your hearts as well as theirs.

4. Serve with your Finances

God provides us with everything we need and more. Our money comes from God's love for us and essentially our money is God's money, so we need to use it wisely. As parents, we need to teach our children how to use our money for the glory of God. If you haven't already, teach your children about tithing and setting aside money for God. Our society today is all about spending. If we want our children to learn about glorifying God with our money, then we need to set an example for them. Take a look at your budget and what you are spending this week. What can you cut back on? Eating out? Daily coffees? Junk food? Clothes? This week, save that money and donate it to a cause that your family has picked together. If you can, try to donate it to a cause you have never donated to before.

5. Pray for World Issues

Prayer is a powerful tool that God has given us to communicate with Him. It is so important to teach our children how to pray by praying together as a family. The next time your family watches or reads about world news, and they bring up an issue in a 3rd world country, do a bit of research on the country, its people, and the issue that is happening. Then talk to your children about it and pray for the country, its people, and the issue arising there.

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Amen as to 1, 3 and 4.  Forehead scrunches as to 2 and 5.

As to 2, I would favor learning about your neighbors, indigenous or otherwise.

As to 5, I would favor praying "locally on out." That is, pray first for those around you, then those around them, etc.  If you get there, it's fine to pray for all the places on the planet you can't find on a label-free map, but we need to recognize that 1) we are finite, 2) the best prayer is that which is accompanied by some level of real world action.  Hence my prescription for praying for "locally on out."

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