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"What's Holy Week All About?" + Childcare Available on Easter Day
The Director of Children's Ministries writes about how to explain what Holy Week is all about to kids.
We are in the midst what might be my favorite week of the year - Holy Week. Ever since I was a child, I have loved the pageantry of the Palm Processional on Palm Sunday, have been moved by the reading of the Passion Gospel, and have loved the joy of Easter Sunday. As an adult, I have found that the solemnity of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday have made the rejoicing on Easter morning all the more poignant.
Yet this is not an easy week for children. Parts of this week are dark, and sad, and frightening. Death is not an easy thing, and Jesus' death on the cross, and all the ugliness that precedes it is disturbing at best. Yet it is important that children have an age-appropriate understanding of this, perhaps the most important week in the Christian year. I believe it is impossible to fully experience Easter joy without knowing what happened on Good Friday. And if children go from the Palm Processional one week directly to the celebration of Easter joy the next they may only wonder what the celebration is all about.
So how do we explain this week to kids? One of the things I have found helpful in working with children is to talk about Holy Week both in terms of individual days and as an arc — a series of events beginning with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and ending (but not really!) with His resurrection. Kids understand about different days of the week having different meanings, or events attached to them. Talking about each day of Holy Week in this context helps children to understand the connection between Palm Sunday and Easter. It's not necessary to go into a great deal of detail about each day, but it's helpful for kids to be able to mark each day of Holy Week, as a way of preparing themselves for Easter joy. We may be midway through, but here are some ideas to mark the Triduum as a family - the time beginning Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday.
This is the day Jesus washes the disciples feet, showing us how we are to live lives of service to one another. It is also the time he institutes Holy Communion.
Join your Trinity family for a simple supper immediately before our Maundy Thursday service in the Commons (downstairs). Soup, bread, and sides; along with options for our younger members. All ages are welcome! After supper, come to the Maundy Thursday service with footwashing.
If you cannot make it to church, begin your evening meal by washing one another’s hands. Either do this at the kitchen sink or bring a basin of water to the table, but the idea is that each person washes the hands of someone else.
Then, to remember the Last Supper at home with children, set aside some bread (a roll or even a slice of sandwich bread) at supper. After the meal simply read the story of the last Supper from Matthew 26:26 - 30 or from a Bible Story Book. Pass the bread around, pour a bit more of the beverage into cups and tell each other stories you can remember about Jesus. Close by praying the Lord's Prayer together.
I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to bring your children to our children's Good Friday gathering - 12 noon in the Commons. We will create beautiful Easter Gardens that will be part of our floral offerings on Easter Sunday, and will also spend time talking about Jesus and gardens - the Garden of Gethsemene, and the garden that the Gospel of John tells us his tomb was located in.
In the case that this is not possible, the most important thing to remember about talking about this day is that it is NOT the end. One thing I always tell children is that the events of Good Friday are not the end of the story. It is, indeed, a sad story, actually the saddest story we can imagine, but it is one with the happiest ending. In telling this story to children, remind them of this, or alert them ("here comes the scary part") as you get to Jesus' crucifixion. But it's important to remember that we should never tell the crucifixion story to children without also mentioning the resurrection. Tell the story in the simplest terms at first (There were people who did not like Jesus. They were very angry and they put him to death on a cross. Everyone was very sad. Jesus' friends cried. They buried him in a cave and covered the door with a big rock. But when they went back in Easter morning Jesus wasn't there. He was alive again!") and add details as children grow older or begin to ask questions.
I like to think of this as a "waiting day". Good things come to those who wait! Use this day as a time to prepare for Easter as a family. One great idea is to make Resurrection Cookies - a wonderful recipe, that goes along with a telling of the Easter story, meant to made the night before Easter and opened (to a surprise!) on Easter morning. You can also make Resurrection Rolls or Hot Cross Buns.
Rejoice! Jesus is alive again! It was the best surprise anyone could have ever imagined. Nothing, not even death, could stop God's love.
Ultimately, the most important thing to let kids know is that Jesus' resurrection overcomes everything. As I said to the children during our "Walk Through Holy Week" homily on Palm Sunday, we know that Jesus' crucifixion is not the end of the story. We know this because we are Easter People.
As you walk through this upcoming Holy Week with Jesus, may your family be blessed by the knowledge that we are indeed Easter People.
Cathy Portlock Pacitto,
Director of Children's Ministries
Nursery Care Is Available on Easter Morning
Sun., Apr. 9, 7:30 am - 1:30 pm, Nursery
We welcome children from infants through age 4 into the Nursery on Easter Day. The Nursery will open at 7:30 am and will remain open through the 8 am, 10 am and 12 noon services.
Children's Homily Moving to the Chapel
We are celebrating Jesus' resurrection and the new life he gives to us all! Please note that on Easter Day, April 9, Children's Homily will move to the Chapel. We will continue to gather beneath the pulpit and return via the Clarendon Vestibule.
Click here to learn more about Children's Ministries at Trinity Church Boston.