This season of Lent provides a beautiful opportunity to train our children to “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). In the midst of busy family rhythms, it is helpful to create a simple, yet concrete way of affording our children the opportunity to partake in the counter-cultural practice of self-sacrifice. This project creates a memorable tradition steeped in theological reality. May this project serve to remind little hearts that small acts offered to Jesus add up to the pure sweetness of a greater good. May our children remember the loving example of Jesus on the cross and learn to store up treasure in the kingdom by being a sacrificial vessel in the hand of God.
We started the project with a crucifix in hand and affixed it around the neck of a favorite jar with a string. The symbol of the cross is a reminder of the significance of each of our personal sacrifices.
After an act of sacrificial generosity or loving-kindness is offered up (and mom has given her blessing), a bean is added to the jar. We suggest using red kidney beans to remind your family that Christ’s sacrifice actually cost him blood, but any type of bean will work. Throughout the Lenten season, the beans will multiply and serve as a visual rendering of the exponential weightiness of the deeds when offered in union with Christ.
The dry beans are replaced with jelly beans upon the culmination of Lent (Easter Sunday) to signify the sweetness of the high prize of following Christ in Kingdom reality. It can also signify that, because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, our sacrificial vessel can be transformed and filled with joy.