On Monday mornings at Faith Alive, we spend some time praying for one another and for our work. This week, along with celebrating the joys of a new baby, a new house, and an upcoming birthday, we sought God’s mercy for a friend who is in a comma, a family who has lost their mother, a hurting infant, and an aging father.
It always seems like death draws near during Lent. As we reflect on being but dust and ash and follow Christ’s journey to the cross, we’re reminded of how much we need the resurrection. Though it’s tempting to rush ahead to Easter and bask in the celebration of the risen Lord Jesus, Lent reminds us of what we’re hoping for, and prepares us to experience the glory of an empty tomb.
Hope for the Hurting
As Easter approaches, make prayer a more prominent part of your time together. Make space for kids to ask for and offer prayer for the people they love; as they do, draw attention to the Easter implications of their requests. Encourage them to talk about how sad it feels to lose someone we love, or to see a friend sick and hurting. Wonder with them about why people die, what happens when they die, and how God feels about it. Discuss how our bodies wear out over time, from sickness and injury, and how God promises that one day we’ll have new bodies that will never wear out. Talk about Jesus’ own death and the hope it gives us to know that Jesus isn’t dead anymore, and that the loved ones we miss are already with him in heaven!
Symbols of the Season
If your church uses symbols and colors during the Lenten season, bring them into your classroom and ask the kids if they know the stories behind the anointing oil, the palm branches, the ashes, the cross, the crown of thorns, and the purple cloth. Encourage the kids to look for these symbols during the worship service, and help them understand how the stories you’re sharing right now in Sunday school connect with the Easter story.
Sounds of the Story
Holy week begins with cheers and swishing palm branches, then tables crashing in the temple. Next the crack of broken alabaster, and the Lord’s supper—with clanging cups and splashing water, then soft snores of sleeping disciples. Soon come the thump, thump of approaching soldiers, the smack of a kiss, the crow of a rooster, the jeering guards, the condemning crowd, the crack of a whip, the pounding of nails, the cries of a mother, the words “It is finished,” the tearing of the temple curtain, and a rumble like thunder as the ground split apart. . .
Then silence, and sorrow.
Until the third day—CELEBRATION!
The gasp of recognition! The squeal of delight! The sound of running feet! Eager voices sharing good news. . . .
The holy week was a whirlwind of noise, energy, and emotion! As the week arrives, help your kids wonder about the sights and sounds of this story, the central story in Scripture—the story of God’s AMAZING power and love! More than any other time of year Easter gives us a reason to shout and sing for joy! Jesus is ALIVE! Death has been defeated! God welcomes us in love!
If you're using Faith Alive's resources, make the most of the special music in each Walk With Me Easter book, as well as the Lent and Easter sections of the Sing With Me Children's Songbook. Create music more boisterous than ever by incorporating clapping, snapping, and musical instruments! Make homemade cymbals, drums, tambourines, and shakers. Have your kids think of motions and dances that express the excitement of Easter. Invite the congregational worship leader to teach kids some of the special songs that will be sung during morning worship, adding motions for those as well!
Help your church get excited about sharing the good news of the risen Savior with your community. Encourage kids, teens, and adults to invite friends and neighbors to hear the story of Easter.
Set up an invitation station near the Sunday school rooms. Encourage kids to spend time decorating and personalizing cards that include the holy week schedule with plenty of space for drawing. Dedicate some Sunday school time for the project, or have kids stop by before or after class. Tip: If you include paint, glitter, glue, or markers it’s wise to have a supervisor handy!
Make postcard-sized information cards that include holy week details and a map of the church location for teens and adults to share with friends.
Parade of Palms
Coordinate with your outreach committee to plan a church-wide effort to connect with the community on Palm Sunday. Invite kids, teens, and adults to stay after church to spend an hour passing out palm branches in the neighborhood. Begin with a word of prayer and a few minutes of practicing how to greet neighbors without pestering them, how to ask for prayer requests (if that’s something you’re comfortable doing), and what to say as you invite neighbors to worship, a holy week service, or an Easter program.
Split into small teams that include people of all ages (families make great teams!). Give each team a map with their section of the neighborhood highlighted, and have all the kids carry (and wave) the palm branches. Kid’s love to give—after a few houses they may feel comfortable offering the palm branch and extending the invitation themselves!
Give Easter visitors a casual way to connect with church members and build new friendships by planning a fun family activity within the two weeks following Easter. Make information about ministries, services, and upcoming events visible and easy for guests to grab!
What about your church? What Lent and Easter traditions do you have? Share your ideas in the "comments" section below!