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Lenten Justice Crosses

About this article

Through this hands-on project, the young people help spread the Lenten message of conversion to justice. They also become familiar with the message of the prophet Micah and the traditional spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
OVERVIEW

Through this hands-on project, the young people help spread the Lenten message of conversion to justice. They also become familiar with the message of the prophet Micah and the traditional spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Suggested Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Group Size: This strategy can be done with any size group.

Materials Needed

  • newsprint and markers
  • craft sticks, two for each person
  • light-colored acrylic paints, and paintbrushes (optional)
  • thin-line markers, one for each person
  • wood glue or household white glue
  • thin cord, string, or yarn
  • scissors

PROCEDURE

Preparation. It may be helpful to make one cross, as described in steps 3 and 4, to show the participants.

1. Introduce the activity by reading the following scriptural quote: "God has told us what is good, and what is required of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God" (adapted from Mic. 6:8).

2. On newsprint write the three commands that you just read from the prophet Micah: "Act. Love. Walk justly." Invite the young people to reflect on the three attitudes that put us right with God. Note that during Lent we are called to act, love, and walk in ways that do justice to God.

On the same newsprint, write the following three commands: "Fast. Pray. Give away." Comment that especially during Lent, Christians are called to do justice to others through the traditional practices of fasting, praying, and almsgiving. Some of the young adolescents may be unfamiliar with the traditional disciplines of fasting and almsgiving. It may be helpful to describe those practices as spiritual exercises that we do for the soul, along with prayer. Add that those kinds of practices help us to become disciples.

Explain to the young people that they will be making simple crosses that communicate this Lenten message of justice. If you have prepared a sample cross, show it to the group.

3. Give each person two craft sticks, such as those that come in Popsicles. If you choose, direct the young people to paint their craft sticks. Allow the sticks to dry before proceeding with the project. Then make available thin-line markers; glue; thin cord, string, or yarn; and scissors. Lead the participants through the following process:

  1. Carefully place one stick on top of the other to make a cross. Holding the cross in the center, mark where the sticks will later be overlapped and glued. Before you glue the sticks together, you will write some words on them. Be careful not to write any part of those words in the overlap area you have marked.
  2. Write the word, "Act," on the left side of the horizontal crossbeam. Write the word, "Walk," on the right side.
  3. On the top part of the vertical beam, write the word, "Love." On the bottom part, write the word, "justly."
  4. Turn both sticks over.
  5. On the left side of the horizontal beam, write the word, "Fast." Write the word, "Pray," on the right side.
  6. On the top part of the vertical beam, write the word, "Give." On the bottom part, write the word, "away."

4. Direct the young people to glue their sticks together. When the sticks are dry, tell the participants to carefully wrap and tie a piece of thin cord, string, or yarn around the area of overlap. Then direct them to add a light coat of glue over the cord, string, or yarn.

5. Conclude the activity by inviting group members to choose one of the words on the cross and tell the group how they will make a commitment in that area to do justice to God and others during Lent.

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

  • Provide adequate materials so that the young people can each create a number of the Lenten crosses, and then arrange for them to distribute the extra crosses at a parish or school liturgy on Ash Wednesday.
  • The six commands of the justice cross can be used as themes for the six weeks of Lent. Create the cross throughout the Lenten season. Each week have the young teens add a different command to the cross and challenge them to find one way of doing justice in their world by living that command.
  • Schedule this activity for the first week in Lent. Then hang the young people's crosses on a small tree or branch displayed in the meeting room. At each gathering during Lent, ask the participants to write on a strip of paper an example of how they have practiced one of the justice disciplines. Invite them to glue their strip on their cross next to the corresponding command.
  • Help the young teens make one large justice cross and hang it in the parish gathering space. Provide blank strips of paper and tacks. Each week during Lent, invite the people in the parish to write on the paper strips ways they have lived out one of the commands and to attach the strips to the cross.
  • Encourage the young people to take the message home by making a Lenten justice cross for each member of their family.

SCRIPTURAL CONNECTIONS

  • Isa. 57:15 (God is a high and holy God who lives with people who are humble and repentant.)
  • Matt. 6:5-7,16-18 (Jesus teaches about prayer and fasting.)
  • Luke 9:23 (Take up your cross every day and follow Jesus.)
  • 1 Cor. 13:3 (If you give away everything but have no love, it does you no good.)

Acknowledgments

(This activity is taken from Justice and Service Ideas for Ministry with Young Teens, a manual in the HELP series, by Joseph Grant [Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 2000], pages 88-90. Copyright © 2000 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or visit our online catalog at www.smp.org/catalog.cfm.)

Published February 3, 2004.