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Feasting Together during Lent

A group of smiling peopleTraditional Lenten disciplines rarely include feasting and indulgence. Social gatherings and elaborate parties are limited. Simple meals or fasting are the norm. This year, plan a unique opportunity for feasting during Lent. Bring people of all ages together through the spiritual practice of Bible study. Let the bounty of the feast be Scripture.

Feasting on the Word Curriculum provides a unique tool for multigenerational learning. This lectionary-based, all-church approach to education and worship allows congregations to create an environment where disciples of all ages hear and study the same text, usually in separate classrooms and during worship.

Unify the educational experience during Lent by gathering children, youth, and adults in one space at the same time. Use Feasting resources as the guide for each session for the season or, if the experiment works well, for the rest of the year. A combined Feasting class—or classes, depending on the size of the church—can meet on Sunday morning or midweek, at church or in homes. Small congregations can form one group of first-graders through adults. Larger churches can divide into more groups. Make sure that all ages are represented in any setting.

When planning the structure and lessons, keep in mind that a Feasting class is not an intergenerational craft event. Adults are not preparing and supervising activities for children and youth. Older learners are not sacrificing their own spiritual growth and educational needs for younger students. Children and youth are not present for a limited time before moving to separate spaces. The goal is to create an intentional, multiage experience that is fully integrated throughout the session for optimal, cross-generational learning.

If your church subscribes to the all-church Feasting option or purchases curriculum for specific age groups each season, the multiage, youth, and adult Feasting session plans work well for a multigenerational Sunday school. Select one or more activities from the three age-group session plans for each of the four session components: Gathering, Exploring, Responding, and Closing.

Choose different spiritual practices and ways to introduce the Bible story to the group each week. Use activities for exploring the text through different learning styles and abilities. Allow learners to respond to the story diversely and to support one another through the learning process. Include activities for different reading abilities and balance movement with reflection. Be sensitive to the needs of introverts and extroverts.

Feasting on the Word Curriculum helps learners discover what is important to know and where God is revealed in Scripture. Each session encourages learners to consider God’s purpose for their lives and for their faith community. A multigenerational Feasting class has additional benefits. Children, teens, and adults learn from wrestling with biblical texts together. Adults witness the faith and the wisdom of youth. The community is enriched when generations study together regularly. Hopefully, participants are strengthened and feel better prepared to be the body of Christ at home, at school, at work, and in the world. Develop a plan for feasting together during Lent. Let the bounty of the feast be Scripture.

Candace C. Hill is coordinator of educational ministries through Congregational Ministries Publishing, Theology, Worship, and Education, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).