"Plant the cross on your heart, so that in its power and love you can continue to be Christ's representative in the world at work, school, and play."
The Importance of Holy Week for Children
Talking about death and grief with children is critical to their faith. However, even though it is Holy Week and not yet Easter it is necessary to give the proclamation, "Christ has died and Christ is risen from the dead." Children will be thinking bunny rabbits, Easter eggs and baskets, and time home from school. It is also the time to instill in them through prayer and practice the importance of Holy Week in their faith.
Good Friday explanations we can share:
- When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the people who greeted him expected a powerful hero. They did not understand that Jesus' power was not physical strength, but the power of love.
- Jesus showed us that we are to remember him and follow his example of caring for and serving others. We remember him in the gift of bread and wine that mysteriously becomes the body and blood of Christ. It is the time when we know he is present with us.
- At the time of the Last Supper, we see Jesus' example of humbly serving others in love in his washing of the disciples' feet.
- Jesus proclaimed God's forgiveness from the cross as he was dying. He forgave Peter, who had denied him, and those who caused his death, and he will forgive us for all that we do that hurts others. That's why Good Friday is good.
- As God was with Jesus in his suffering, he is with us when we suffer.
Additional Ideas for Good Friday
You might want to do a "foot washing" at home in a special way after sharing the story of Jesus and the Last Supper. You might encourage children to participate in a "Good Friday" service. Talk about how sad the disciples and Mary the Mother of Jesus must have been to see Jesus die, and remind them of the story of our salvation, from Old Testament times to the present. (See The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education for thoughts on the lessons from the Great Vigil of Easter). The children may want to act out the Good Friday/Easter story in much the same way they enjoy the Christmas story.
With older children, the church is called to proclaim that Christ, before his death, invited us to remember how much God loves us, so much so that bread and wine mysteriously become what we share at Eucharist when we eat and drink his flesh and blood, and that through his death new life would be offered for all humanity.
Holy Week is the time to stay current and connected to youth. Consider with the youth the ways in which 21st century discipleship calls us to go to the cross. What are the crosses youth will need to bear in the 21st century? Practice noticing all kinds of people in responding to them as Christ is to them.
Plant the cross on your heart, so that in its power and love you can continue to be Christ's representative in the world at work, school, and play.
This is an excerpt from The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, 3rd edition edited by Sharon Ely Pearson and Robyn Szoke.