We are Easter people! Joy and hope characterize our lives because Jesus rose from the grave that first Easter morning. Beginning with Palm Sunday (Holy Week), we prepare for the greatest church festival of all — the resurrection of our Lord.
This season is a meaningful time for families to spend together as they reflect on their lives as believers and on their relationships with one another. Here are some suggestions to help school-aged children and their families better understand the significance of the Easter season.
What is Holy Week? It's the week from Palm Sunday to Easter — a week that begins and ends in triumph and rejoicing.
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus' triumphant arrival in Jerusalem. A crowd greeting Him laid palm branches in His path as He entered the village.
On Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), we remember that Jesus washed the apostles' feet before sharing bread (His body) and wine (His blood) with them at the Last Supper. Then He said: "This is My command: love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified. On the way to Calvary, He suffered greatly and was crowned with a wreath of thorns. Despite His agony on the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive those responsible before He died.
On Holy Saturday and at Easter Vigil services, worshipers anticipate the joy of Jesus' resurrection.
Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus' resurrection. Early on this day, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to Jesus' tomb. An angel had rolled back the stone and told them that Jesus had risen. As they ran to deliver the message, they met Jesus, embraced His feet, and worshiped Him.
Prepare for Holy Week
Discuss and plan activities which can help each family member focus on the significance of Easter.
Plan a daily family devotional period. Set a time convenient to all family members.
Plan a visual to help emphasize the meaning of Easter.
Make an Easter symbol tree
An Easter Symbol Tree is easy to construct.
- Find a dead branch from a tree or bush to use as a tree.
- Paint the branch white if you wish.
- Fill a coffee can or other small container two-thirds full of plaster of Paris, fine-grain patching cement, or sand. Place the branch firmly into the mixture.
- Talk about different items which represent Jesus, Easter, and His ministry (cross, lily, fish, loaf of bread, cup, shepherd's crook, Bible, and so forth).
- Allow each person to use construction paper to draw and cut out a small symbol to hang on the tree.
Create a Crown of Thorns Wreath
A Crown of Thorns Wreath is similar to an Advent wreath.
- Make or purchase a grapevine wreath to use as the base. (These wreaths are available at most craft stores.)
- In the wreath, insert seven purple candles, one for each night of the week, and a white candle to represent Christ.
- Light one candle for the first night, light two candles for the second night, and so on.
- Light the Christ candle on Saturday as you celebrate the joyous resurrection of our Lord on Easter Day, tomorrow.
Daily, remind family members that God loves them. Communicate the many ways that God loves your family. Talk about the physical needs God provides like food, shelter, clothing, and water. Discuss how God provides for all persons in the world. Use this as an opportunity to talk about being sorry for wrong choices and mention how saying "I'm sorry" is the first step to making a situation right. Add the importance of forgiving the person who has wronged you. Explain how God does that with us every time we pray to Him about our sins.
On Sunday, attend Sunday school and worship. Hear again the truth of Easter. And, if your schedule permits, locate and attend a sunrise service.