by Sheri L. VanDuyn
During the Church year two major events are observed-Christmas and Lent. In the Art world there are more depictions of Jesus at His birth. Christs Death is illustrated as the second most event in the entire Bible which we observe during this Season of Lent. Certainly, we enjoy viewing artwork of Jesus as a baby as this is a more joyful period, but his death is more painful to view.
So- What is Lent? The six weeks before Easter is called the Lenten Season. Lent ends with Holy Week. It is a time to focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died, and thus paid for our sins, we have life. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we too can enjoy new life through Christ.
Last year as a new Art project I had my high school students write 10-single words to express Lent. Words like-Crown, Sacrifice, Lamb, Savior, Cross, Tomb, Hope, Love, etc. were used. Then they had to write down 10-3 word phrases to express Lent. Some were-Crown of Thorns, Jesus my Lord, Garden of Gethsemane, It is Finished, My Savior Lives! (Try this-it really is addicting! I really got this idea from Good Morning America-What can you say in Just 3 Words! So I thought-COOL! Ill apply this to Lent!) Next students selected the best 2 from each of their lists and made a 4 x 4 tile collage to depict their words using wallpaper, magazine, ribbon, tissue paper, and a variety of materials. With over 75 students, there were not 2 single words or phrases that were the same, plus there was not even a sign up for words!-this was truly a wonderful way to express their sayings, words, and emotions of a religious time of year!
While this was new, I always tried in my Art classes to challenge my students to look to the cross and remember the suffering and death of Christ for us. This involves my students writing down on a paper something that they will give up during these 40 days of Lent and the 6 Sundays prior to Easter. Of course, I always get one student who blurts out that he will give up homework for the duration! So before writing anything down, I really challenge them that this should be something that should be a commitment and a sacrifice at the same time.
I hesitate to discuss ideas as then everyone writes down the same thing and I really want them to think about what their commitment will be. However, in the past I have had students give up pop, pizza, TV, ice cream, chocolate, and staying out late. I ran into a parent this year who told me that this challenge has continued to make an impact on his son who is now in college. For Lent he is going to give up Facebook! Wow-this will certainly be quite an endeavor for this teenager!
On the other half of the paper, I have students write something that they will add to their Life during this time to enhance themselves. Usually nothing in Lent is added only something is taken away, but I want this to be more of a challenge at this time of year. The idea of taking away is looking at what Christ took away for us-His Life. This can be something meaningful or showing purpose. Such things could include drinking more water, exercising more, reading their Bible more, spending time with their Grandparents or calling them, etc..
So, on one side of the paper is written the discipline to give up and on the other is the discipline to enhance their life. The paper is folded with their name written on the outside and placed in an envelope and sealed with the class hour. I promise not to read them and I will pass them back the day after Easter. If students cannot uphold what they wrote, it is between God and themselves. (If a student does fail, I always say try again and keep trying! I try to do different challenges for each of the classes.)
The interesting fact is that some of the students share right away what they wrote down with me or others in the class as a support system; others I really do not know and I do not need to know what they wrote down. Some take this very seriously and some take this quite lightly. Others change their mind about what they have written down. I have learned over the years to enjoy watching the students react when they get their paper back. Some really have held their commitment, others have not. Will you?
When I survey
The wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of Glory died.
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
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