This Lenten Candles Family Activity is a simple, yet profound way to walk through Lent as a family and prepare your hearts for the hope of Easter.
Our family has deeply loved using an Advent wreath (and family Advent devotional) the past few years as we eagerly countdown the arrival of Jesus during December. I have been amazed year after year how the simple act of lighting candles has become an incredible teaching tool to help visually show the expectant longing and anticipation of Advent. That’s why I was so thrilled to stumble across a similar concept of Lenten Candles. Unlike Advent where a new candle is lit each week and the light slowly gets brighter, during Lent each week gets progressively darker, until there is complete darkness on Good Friday. On Easter Sunday all of the candles are lit as we celebrate the best news ever that He is risen! Isn’t that such a profound visual?!
I am a big fan of using meaningful and hands-on activities to bring the Bible alive because they can help kids (and adults) focus and engage with Scripture with their hands, head, and heart.
As I mentioned earlier, I was so happy to find this devotional that walks through the Lenten Candles each week. It’s incredibly simple, yet deeply profound. Each Sunday your family will light the candles, read the devotional, and progressively blow out one candle until it is completely dark on Good Friday.
As you walk through Lent and Holy week, the candles will visually remind your family of the powerful truth that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). While it may have seemed on Good Friday that all hope was lost, Sunday is coming. Hallelujah!
How do the Lenten Candles work?
On the first Sunday of Lent, all seven candles are lit. As each week of Lent passes, one candle is extinguished. Unlike Advent where a new candle is lit each week and the light slowly gets brighter, during Lent each week gets progressively darker, until there is complete darkness on Good Friday.
“Whereas Advent is a season of ever-increasing light anticipating the incarnation of Christ, Lent is a season of ever-decreasing light approaching His crucifixion. Light is gradually extinguished to symbolize the journey through the wilderness and toward the cross and tomb.”The Village Church
On Good Friday it appeared that darkness and death had won. The Light had been extinguished.
But thanks be to God that it doesn’t end there! “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Corinthians 15:55-57]
Sin and death have been defeated! On Resurrection Sunday all seven candles are lit as we celebrate the hope, life, and victory we have because of Jesus. He is risen, He is risen indeed!
So now that you’ve imagined the profound visual of these candles are you ready to create a set of your own? Let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need:
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- 7 Candles — We used 6 purple and 1 white (to symbolize Jesus, the Light of the World), but you can use whatever candles you have
- Tray — We used this wooden tray to remind us of the cross, but any tray will do!
- Rocks (Head outside on a nature walk to find some or you can also use decorative ones like these)
- Optional: Devotional to read each week. Highly recommend this one
How to Assemble Your Lenten Candles:
Step One: Carefully pour the sand into the tray
Keep pouring! Try not to get too stressed with your kids pouring sand. 😬As they say hindsight is 20-20, so if you’re worried about your dining room turning into a beach it might be wise to put this together outside. We used about 2 cups of sand, but that will obviously vary depending on how large your tray is.
Step Two: Use a spoon to smooth out the sand into an even layer
Step Three: Arrange the candles on top of the sand
Step Four: Add the rocks (and take a minute to marvel at the fact that if we won’t praise Him, the rocks will — Luke 19:40)
Using the candles is incredibly simple. On Sunday of each week, pair lighting your Lenten candles with a short devotional. If you’re looking for a devotional to use this is the one we are using. It’s fantastic!
Symbolism of the Lenten Candles:
While there isn’t official symbolism of the Lenten candles, this is the WHY behind what I chose to use to assemble our Lenten Candles.
The rocks remind us that Jesus alone is worthy of our adoration and praise. It reminds us that Jesus said if the people wouldn’t praise Him, the rocks would.
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out. [Luke 19:40]
The sand reminds us of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). He was alone, tempted, and hungry; yet He resisted sin and lived a perfect life.
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. [Isaiah 40:3]
The candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. And the light always overcomes the darkness.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [John 1:4-5]
I pray that as your family uses the Lenten Candles each week, you would encounter Jesus in a powerful way and the truth of the gospel would sink deep into your hearts.
Looking for other ways to point your family to Jesus throughout Lent? Check out this paper chain scripture countdown.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. For years I have been wanting to use candles for the season of Lent, similar to how we use them for Advent. Coming across your post has been a treasure trove! I plan on creating a similar lenten candle display for my family and implementing Noel Piper’s “Lenten Lights Devotional.” Thanks again for sharing!
What an amazing idea- I’m love the idea of slowly lessening the light – as it goes with lent how you described it. Thank you for this straight forward simple idea to share with my family- In a house 8- and very busy kids – it is often a great challenge to slow down and then make ourselves share time and moments that are so profound and valuable!! But what more does a faith guided mother want for her family and the upbringing memories of her children?! Less is often more and this sounds like a sure fire what to be sure something happens to focus on the season if lent together! Look forward to having my youngest ones help assemble it and to let them share the reason behind each part with the rest of the family- and to a weekly devotion over the candles together – all of us ! May His many blessings fulfill you and your family!
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A very inspiring and new activity to understand more of the season of Lent. Thank you for sharing…might start next lenten season, God willing…
Do you have any idea what size the candles are? I love this idea but struggling to find candles.
The wooden tray is no longer available. Do you know the dimensions so that I can try to find a similar one?