In families with young children, it’s tempting to focus on Palm Sunday and then skip straight to Easter. These are joyous occasions and easy to discuss with children.
However, we often shy away from the topics of Holy Week because they are not so happy and easy. I would argue, though, that is like reading the first chapter of a book and then straight to the last chapter without reading the actual STORY in the middle.
I don’t imagine any of us would recommend that approach to academics, so why should we take that approach to our faith?
Yes, the Holy Week story does include sadness and fear, but as the saying goes, you can’t really appreciate winning if you have never experienced loss. In the same manner we – and our children – cannot fully embrace the joy of resurrection and Easter if we don’t allow ourselves to experience the whole story. This Holy Week, let’s commit to the whole story. Here are some kid- & family-friendly ideas for observing Holy Week at home:
- Stations of the Cross in Nature Guide for Children. This guide includes scripture passages and wondering questions to use with children. There is an adult version that would work well with teens, too!
- Make your own resurrection eggs! Read how. (You can purchase a full dozen resurrection eggs online or at Christian bookstores. However, when using the full 12, some of the symbols could be considered less than kid friendly.)
- Use the Family Lent Activities Calendar! Even if you haven’t done it for the entirety of Lent, you can still do it for Holy Week!
- Books are always a great way to engage children. Here are some suggestions:
- Easter Love Letters From God by Glenys Nellist
- The Week that Led to Easter by Joanne Larrison
- Holy Week: An Emotions Primer by Danielle Hitchen
- Remember, this story is in the bible, too! 😊 Use a children’s bible that tells the story at an appropriate level for the children in your home. If you need a suggestion or a bible, let me know!
- Observe Holy Week with your faith community. We are having some in-person events including a Resurrection Egg Hunt & A Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. Although the vigil is contemplative, it is also experiential and children are welcome. Reservations required. Sign up for the egg hunt here. Sign-ups for the vigil open on Sunday, so check the Holy Week page then.
- Set the example. As adults, it would be a lot easier if we didn’t have to wrestle with Holy Week either. But, again, wouldn’t that immensely diminish our understating and celebration of Easter? If we want children to know the full story, we have to enfold them into our celebrations – and lamentations – of that story. Commit to Holy Week observances yourself and bring your children along. Embrace their questions and do not be reluctant to answer.
Children are inherently filled with awe and wonder. When we allow them to experience the fullness of this story, we honor that sense of wonder and share with them the incomprehensible nature of God’s love and grace.