Lent is a time of preparation. During this season, Christians around the world fast and pray, focusing their minds and hearts on Christ’s death and resurrection. For many of us, and especially for children, the Easter season can be obscured by distractions like fancy clothing and baskets of eggs. As parents and educators, it’s important that we reorient Easter in our homes and classrooms. It is our privilege and responsibility to invite children to reflect on the truth of God’s Word, to wonder at God’s love, and to remember and celebrate the mystery of our faith.
A Devotional for Palm Sunday
I invite you to use the following devotional this Palm Sunday. Drawn from The Gift of the Cross: Celebrating Christ Through Holy Week, it has been adapted for this site. You’ll notice that the italicized words are read aloud by the leader, while the bold and italicized words are recited by all. This daily devotional is the first in a series and, as a result, introduces readers to repeated liturgical actions and words. These simple liturgical elements create a familiar and safe experience of belonging for children; when they aren’t worried about what will happen next, they can instead focus on what God might have to share with them each day. Most importantly, these practices unite the readers and listeners in a shared experience that, from start to finish, centers around Christ. A PDF of this devotional can be found here.
Day 1: Entering Jerusalem
Today we begin a time of remembering and celebrating Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. The time that stretches from Palm Sunday to Easter is called Holy Week. We’ll begin our time by welcoming each other in this way: I’ll say “The Lord be with you,” and then you’ll say “And also with you.”
Let’s try this together: The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
[Sit in a circle together and light the candle.]
We light the candle to remember Christ, the light of the world. Let’s quiet our thoughts as we look at the flame.
Each day we’ll read from the Bible. At the end I’ll say “This is the Word of the Lord,” and then you’ll say “Thanks be to God.”
Let’s try it together: This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Reading: Luke 19:29–40
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Why do you think the crowds treated Jesus like a king?
What was Jesus thinking about as the people shouted “Hosanna”?
Jesus, like those people shouting “Hosanna” thousands of years ago, we are excited and grateful that you have come to save us. Thank you for coming to earth and becoming a person to rescue us from ourselves. Help us to respond by living lives of praise to you. Amen.
Each day, after we pray, we will end by sharing what we Christians around the world believe about Jesus. I’ll begin by saying “Together we remember and share what we believe,” and then we’ll together say “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.”
Let’s try this together: Together we remember and share what we believe.
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.
Just as the crowd of people shouted praise to Jesus, we know that creation sings praise to God as well. Jesus even said that the stones would cry out if the disciples and the crowd didn’t. Read Job 12:7–10 and then spend some time outside. Notice how each plant, each animal, the water, and the land all sing their own unique praises to God.
The above devotional is an adaptation of an original selection from The Gift of the Cross: Celebrating Christ Through Holy Week which is available for purchase on Amazon or from Brandon Helder’s website. Though this book can be read independently, it is intended to be used in conjunction with the Resurrection Block Set available for purchase separately from Worship Wood Works. The wooden Resurrection Block Set offers children a tactile experience and a memorable visual to accompany The Gift of the Cross. With each devotional, a new block is revealed and stacked on top of the others, ultimately constructing a wooden cross to be enjoyed for years to come.