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Holy Week with Children

April 8, 2014

praying with the cross

We are preparing to enter the biggest week of the Christian year—the week in which we travel alongside Jesus for his entry into Jerusalem, his last meal with his friends, his encounter with his father in the garden, his betrayal, trial, crucifixion—and finally, his resurrection. It’s a big week—full of big emotions and powerful symbols—and it may seem like too much for children. But it’s not.

Experiencing Holy Week in the context of worship and the security of their church family is the best way for children to experience this difficult but crucial story. By participating in Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and finally the Feast of the Resurrection on Sunday morning, children learn that popularity is not all it seems, that service is a sign of strength, that good people sometimes suffer, and that God is always stronger than hate and injustice.

These are lessons learned first with hearts and bodies and souls, by washing feet and tasting bread and praying at the cross; by candlelit churches, blazing vigil fires, ringing bells, and released Alleluias. And so I encourage you to include children in your Holy Week services and to talk about what you feel and experience in these sacred moments without getting too hung up on what anyone “understands”. There is a time for that kind of learning but Holy Week is bigger than our brains. I suspect you will find the children in your midst well equipped to teach you what that means, if you give them a chance.

 

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