Palm Sunday ~ Praise / Palm Branch
Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem… Many in the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus, and others cut leafy branches in the fields and spread them along the way. He was in the center of the procession, and the crowds all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Bless the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!”
Suggested Readings: Psalm 118:26, Zachariah 9:9, Revelation 7:9-17
Decorate your table for lunch or dinner using real or artificial palm branches. Children might enjoy making the palm branches out of green construction paper. Let them march through the house waving branches and shouting “Hosannah!”
Monday ~ Prayer / Pretzel
It was time for the annual Passover celebration, and Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and he saw money changers behind their counters. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “The scriptures declare, ‘My temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” Our bodies are temples because Christ dwells within us. What behaviors and attitudes please God when we worship Him?
Suggested Readings: John 2:13-16, Matt. 21:13, I Corinthians 3:16, 6:18 & II Corinthians 6:16
Make soft pretzels. Pretzels are a traditional reminder of arms that are folded in prayer.
Some people fold their hands when they pray.
But a long time ago, Christians chose a different way.
Arms folded across the chest was common, they say,
and it inspired a tradition for Lent that would stay.
For hundreds of years, pretzels have reminded people to pray,
and that’s why we are going to make some today!
There is a pretzel recipe at the end of this page.
Tuesday ~ Love for God / Letter
Jesus went to teach at the temple every day during Holy Week. One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’
Suggested Reading: Mark 12:28-30
How can you express your love to God today? Parents, help your children express their love in a creative way. Write a letter to God; create a collage or mural; an A-Z list of things they love about God; an acronym list using a name for God such as Lord, Father, or King.
Wednesday ~ Love for Others / Lilies
The second commandment is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.
Suggested Reading: Mark 12:31-34
Make or buy a lily to give as a gift of encouragement to someone. You might include a note like this:
The Easter Lily is a symbol of purity and light.
On Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus,
a pure light in the darkness.
I/We wish you a joyous celebration of Easter
and a spring filled with life and love.
Here is a link to a page with an easy and fun way to make paper lilies with your children using their handprints: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2009/03/how-to-make-easter-lilies-bouquet-of-flowers-craft-with-your-kids-handprints/
Maundy Thursday ~ Sacrifice & Service / Supper & Shoes
The word maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning command.
“And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each others’ feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”
Suggested Reading: John 13:14-15
This day commemorates the night of the Last Supper which Jesus shared with his disciples and when he washed their feet. Consider participating in a service with your family or church to observe the day the disciples received the command to love, had their feet washed by a king, and the connection was made between the Passover sacrifice and Christ’s sacrifice. Take turns serving each other and/or washing each other’s feet. In lieu of washing feet, children could polish shoes—dad’s, mom’s, or each other’s. You could also host a Passover Meal. More information and a guide for conducting a Seder (Order of Service) can be purchased for a small cost at doorposts.com. For a simpler version, serve just grape juice and Matzo (“Matzah”) crackers.
Good Friday ~ The Cross / Curtains & Crown
Good Friday is the day when Jesus’ death is commemorated. For Christians, good has come from His sacrifice. It is usually a very solemn day.
Suggested Readings: Matthew Chapter 27, Mark 14:27-15:47, Luke 22: 31-24:53
You might want to close all of your shades & curtains on Good Friday to darken your house between noon & 3:00. If you have a cross, drape it with black or purple cloth and/or a circle of thorny vines. Children can make a crown of thorns using play dough and toothpicks. There is also a pattern for making an origami cross at the end of this page.
Holy Saturday ~ Crypt / Candles & Cookies
Suggested Readings: Isaiah 9:2, I John 1:5, Luke 2:29b, Isaiah 60:3, II Corinthians 4:6, John 3:16-21, Ephesians 5:8-9, Psalm 18: 28, I Peter 2:9b, Matthew 5:14-15, Psalm 27:1a, Psalm 18: 28, Isaiah 2:5b, John 1:9
Holy Saturday candlelight vigils are a historic church tradition. Have a candlelight devotional time with your family or guests in the evening. A Light in the Darkness responsive reading is provided at the end of this newsletter. If you have an Advent wreath, you might use the Christ Candle from your wreath for your main candle.
Children would enjoy making Resurrection cookies. The recipe, which teaches the Easter story, is at the end of this newsletter.
One of our favorite resources for Easter is the Resurrection Eggs by Family Life Ministries with the accompanying ZonderKids story, Benjamin’s Box, written by Melody Carlson & illustrated by Jack. For the same price as the book and eggs, you can get an Easter Kit which also includes a small gold box to use with the book and a festive bag. (Order at: http://shop.celebrationsandtraditions.com/main.sc)
Benjamin’s Box: A young boy follows Jesus through Jerusalem, collecting mementos to share with others and to remind him of Jesus’ teachings. Designed to be used as “stand-alone” or with the Resurrection Eggs. (Each page of the book corresponds to one of the eggs.) Benjamin’s Box is illustrated and inscribed by Jack.
The Resurrection Eggs: Twelve colorful eggs with meaningful objects bring the story of the death and resurrection of Christ to life
One of our favorite Easter traditions is to wake up the household with joyful music such as the Hallelujah Chorus or “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Open all your curtains and shades. Greet your family with the words, “He is risen!” and have them respond, “He is risen indeed!” Make a “Christ is Risen” banner or ribbon sticks for children to twirl in celebration, saying “Christ is risen!” If you covered a cross on Friday, remove the cloth & crown of thorns and drape it with flowers. Rejoice!
Eggs for Conversation Starters
Put a plastic pull-apart egg on or near each guest’s dinner plate. Put small strips of paper with conversational questions in the eggs and let each person at the table read and answer his or her question. This is a great way to create a shared experience and to focus on the meaning of the holiday. A list of suggested questions is included at the end of this newsletter.
Eggs for Celebration
Put a plastic pull-apart egg on or near each person’s dinner plate with a treat and a small strip of paper with a scripture passage, quote, or poem inside the egg. Invite each guest to read his or her note aloud. (For children, put in a picture that they can share.) There are some suggested questions near the end of this page. E-mail us at Stockmans@CelebrationsandTraditions.com for a copy of scriptures, poems, and quotes that we’ve enjoyed using.
Eggs for Prayer
Place two baskets on a coffee table or buffet—one filled with pull-apart plastic eggs and one empty—along with pens and small pieces of paper. Invite your guests to write prayer requests on the papers and put them inside one of the plastic eggs, which should then be placed in the second basket. When your guests leave, invite them to take an egg and pray for the person/request until Ascension Day, forty days after Easter.
Eggs for Teaching
Use The Resurrection Eggs by Family Life Ministries, a set of twelve colorful eggs with meaningful objects that help children understand and remember the story of the death and resurrection of Christ along with Benjamin’s Box, a Zonderkidz book written by Melody Carlson & illustrated by Jack. In this story, a young boy follows Jesus through Jerusalem, collecting mementos to share with others and to remind him of Jesus’ teachings. Each page of the book corresponds to one of the Resurrection Eggs.
Make an Easter garden with an empty tomb. Check out wearethatfamily.com/2012/03/diy-mini-resurrection-garden/ for illustrated examples and directions.
Take a walk to look for budding trees and plants and other signs of new life; talk about what new life in Christ means.
For next year… Save the trunk from a Christmas tree to use to make a cross. This demonstrates the connection of Christmas with Easter. Jesus was born in the stable in Bethlehem so that he could be one of us and die for us. To make the cross, cut two pieces out of the trunk and notch both of the pieces so they will fit together in the traditional cross shape. Drill holes for candles. Decorate the cross with ivy and/or flowers using hot glue or a staple gun using curved staples. As at Advent, the candles can be purple (to represent repentance) and pink (to represent hope) or white. Whatever color the candles are, the candlelight always represents the light that Jesus brought into the world. Use it during Lent, Holy week, or just on Easter Day.