As we gear up for February, we find ourselves facing a unique and exciting overlapping of two significant events on the calendar: Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. This year, these two special days fall on the same date (February 14), creating an opportunity for a rich and meaningful exploration of God’s love and compassion.
Valentine’s Day, traditionally celebrated as a day of love and affection, may seem worlds apart from the solemn observance of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. But as they coincide this year, it gives us a great opportunity to help children understand the connections between these seemingly unrelated occasions.
Valentine’s Day evokes hearts, candies, and talk of love of all kinds. In children’s ministry, we can focus on God’s love and sharing that love with others. Ash Wednesday invites us into a period of reflection and self-examination. It marks the beginning of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance. This may seem like a stark contrast to the festive atmosphere of Valentine’s Day, but the essence of both celebrations is rooted in love.
Despite the apparent differences, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday share a common thread – the transformative power of love. We can help children see that love, as celebrated on Valentine’s Day, has the potential to bring joy and warmth to our lives. Simultaneously, the deeper, sacrificial love we explore during Lent leads to personal transformation and a closer relationship with God.
As you make your mid-week plans for February 14 this year, consider connecting the two celebrations together. Here are a few practical ideas:
- Love in Action: Organize a service project or outreach activity where the children can spread love and kindness in the community. Operation Valentine is one service project kids love!
- Prayerful Art: Combine Valentine’s Day crafts with elements of prayer and reflection. Create heart-shaped prayer cards or encourage the children to write prayers for personal growth during Lent. Even something as simple as these Valentine Bible verse coloring pages can encourage kids to reflect on God’s love while using their creativity!
- Interactive Storytelling: Share age-appropriate stories that highlight love, compassion, and personal transformation. Discuss how these themes align with both Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent. Find lessons and curriculum with interactive storytelling elements here.
- Interactive Prayer Stations: Set up prayer stations that incorporate elements of both celebrations. Include stations for creating Valentine-themed prayers, drawing symbols of love, and reflecting on personal intentions for the Lenten journey. Allow the children to move through the stations at their own pace. We have Valentine-themed prayer station lessons as well as Ash Wednesday Prayer Stations.
- Ash Wednesday Service with a Love Focus: If appropriate for your ministry setting, organize a special Ash Wednesday service that includes children. During the service, emphasize the themes of love, repentance, and transformation. Incorporate child-friendly worship songs, prayers, and a brief reflection on how love plays a role in our spiritual growth. This Ash Wednesday packet might help kids stay engaged in the service!
- Love-themed Worship Playlist: Create a playlist of worship songs focusing on love, compassion, and God’s grace. Use these songs during your children’s ministry activities throughout February, fostering an atmosphere that combines the joy of Valentine’s Day with the reflective nature of Lent.
- Love Letters to God: Encourage children to write heartfelt letters to God expressing their love, gratitude, and hopes for the Lenten season. Provide them with special stationery, stickers, and markers to make it a creative and personal experience. This 6-activity family devotion resource could be used over the 6 weeks of Lent!
This year’s combination of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday offers a unique opportunity for us to guide young hearts toward a deeper understanding of love in its various forms. By embracing the dual celebration, we can impart valuable lessons about love, compassion, and the transformative journey of Lent. Let’s seize this moment to inspire our kids and families to not only celebrate love but also to embark on a meaningful spiritual journey that lasts far beyond a single day.
Looking for more Valentine and Lent resources? Find them here.