Beyond the hats, dresses and starched-new suits for Easter, there are ways that we can prepare the hearts of the whole family for Resurrection Sunday.
Just as Christ spent the days leading up to His incredibly victory over the grave and sin, we can spend Holy Week in preparation and expectation of Sunday and the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection. These preparations are meant for the whole family. The detail you give depends solely on the age-appropriateness of the language you use. For example, you would not go into graphic detail of the crucifixion for preschoolers, but for adults and older teens, those details may give you an even greater understanding of why and how Jesus suffered for us.
On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers. We should start off Holy Week by asking forgiveness for anything that may impede worship this week. Read this Bible story (using either the Bible or, for younger children, a Bible storybook) at the dinner table and talk about it.
Tuesday, Jesus cursed the fig tree (this may be a hard lesson to teach to little kids) and taught in the Temple and on Mt Olive. The lesson here is, just as Jesus taught us, so we are to teach others about the Christian faith. Especially at Easter, when most people actually celebrate the pagan spring holiday surrounding Istar, the goddess of fertility whose name was morphed into Easter, which is symbolized by eggs. We are to teach our children the true meaning of this holy time: Jesus.
On Wednesday, Judas agreed to betray Jesus. In addition, some of the disciples were told to prepare the upper room for Passover. Use this day, shop (prepare) for the days ahead. Use the shopping trip as a learning experience, that we need to prepare to worship Jesus with our hearts, minds and bodies. Buy the foods necessary for Thursday through Sunday. Clean the house. Make these normal, everyday to-do list tasks acts of worship by reverently doing them in solemn peace and quiet. Tell your children why you’re doing it this way and encourage them to do these things as acts of worship.
On Thursday, prepare a special, candlelit dinner. Read the Scriptures about the Last Supper. Have a foot-washing if you want. Explain that after the disciples and Jesus had dinner that night, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and sweated drops of blood. He was arrested, and endured illegal trials before the High Priest Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod. Keep the evening quiet and solemn. Don’t play the television, but encourage Bible reading and thinking about Jesus and what He endured.
Friday was the day Jesus was beaten, whipped, ridiculed, humiliated, and finally, crucified on the cross. On this day, use a tool such as Resurrection Eggs to go over what happened to Jesus. Again, keep it age-appropriate. Keep the meal solemn and focused on Jesus. Read the Scriptures and keep the television off.
Saturday was the day the disciples, in fear of their lives, hid. On this day, a day of waiting, talk with the children about why Christ died. Read to them the Scriptures in which Jesus mentioned He would rise again. Explain the salvation story, that Jesus gave Himself to die on the cross for us — for our salvation. Don’t pressure, but if a child wants to accept Christ as his or her Savior, what a wonderful blessing that would be. Saturday night, as the kids are asleep, plan to watch a film about the crucifixion story such as “The Passion of the Christ” or something similar. While not appropriate for children younger than 14, a film like this gives adults and older teens a visual, albeit gruesome idea of what Jesus endured. After all, the cross was not about fluffy bunnies.
Finally, Sunday morning — celebrate! I usually wake my family up by blasting Handel’s “Messiah” from the stereo. Bake “Resurrection Buns” and get to church early to celebrate the Risen Savior! The tomb is empty!
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