For those in certain regions of the U.S., winter brings cold days and long, dark nights. After holiday celebrations and ringing in the New Year, the winter months provide ample opportunity to deepen our faith lives as a family. Whether you’re longing for the warmth again or embracing the snow, here are a few ideas for faith formation this winter:

The light of the world

The season of Epiphany is all about Jesus’ light to the world. As a family, pick a country and learn all you can about its customs, people, language, food and history. Find a recipe that lifts up the local flavors. Pray for the country and its people. Give thanks that God’s light shines for them too. You can always connect with your companion synod and see how you can partner with them.

The light of nature

Even with a landscape of bare trees, nature provides plenty of opportunities to study God’s creation. Go on a winter hike and use all your senses. Immerse yourself in the beauty. Look for signs of hope. Feed the birds. Make snow angels. As you walk, share with one another what you noticed and say a prayer of thanks for God’s diverse creation.

The light of play

Who doesn’t love a fort? Gather blankets, tables, pillows, sheets and chairs and make a fort. Have everyone come inside and offer thanks for shelter. Say a prayer for those who don’t have adequate shelter. Find resources in your community to see how you can help the homeless in your area.

The light of Lent

As we approach the season of Lent, find a way as a family to honor the season. Find a family devotional that you can read together each day. Take on a new way to pray together (coloring, singing, sitting in silence or writing your own prayers). Write a letter each week to someone who doesn’t always get thanked and tell them how much you appreciate their work and notice all they do (school janitors, bus drivers, secretaries, mail carriers, cashiers). Decide together what you want to do and be gentle with yourselves if you don’t keep up with it all season.

The light of service

Find a way to get into the community and share your love and time. Perhaps the nursing home, library or animal shelter has opportunities. You can collect donations as a family and donate to a local cause. Talk about all the ways you can show God’s love through service, a smile, a lending hand or listening.

The light of worship

Have worship in your home one day. Get together to pray, sing songs, read the Bible and bless one another. Your service doesn’t have to be long or formal. Talk as a family about your favorite parts of worship and why. You can use your church’s bulletins or make up your own order. Most importantly, have fun and take turns leading!

The light of nourishment

Who doesn’t love warm soup on a cold night? Invite your neighbors to a soup swap. Everyone brings soup and extra containers so all get to take home a variety of soup. As you swap, you’ll get to share family recipes, tell stories and deepen relationships with the people who live closest to you. You can even make extra soup for families who have new babies at home or for someone returning home from surgery or treatments.

The light of rest

Take time to simply be. Light candles. Sit by the fire. Turn off cellphones and televisions. Be together as a family. Read books or play games. Share your highs and lows. Look each other in the eyes. Know that in those still, quiet moments God’s voice can be heard.

Here’s to the winter months and the light of God’s love that shines for each of us.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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