Holy Week and Easter Reflection

Before we get into the stories of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances, we will take and opportunity to pause and reflect on significant experience, memories, and images from Lent, Holy Week, and Easter morning. If you need an update on what our children did during this period of time, check out the recap post here.

Gather

Spend the first part of your class sharing experiences from Lent, Holy Week, and Easter 1. Sit in a circle outside or in your classroom. Go around the circle three times giving each child a chance to share something they did or remember from each period of time (Lent, Holy Week, and Easter). You may want to prompt them for each of these sections. Here are some question/prompt ideas:

Lent: A long time ago, we talked about the Good Shepherd and the sheep for whom he lays down his life. Do you remember this story? What do you remember about it? Who was the Good Shepherd? What did he do? What was your favorite part of the story? Is there another story you liked better? Did it feel like Lent was very long? Did you do anything special at home during this time? Did you do anything special at the church? What did you do?

Holy Week: There were a lot of services at the church during Holy Week. Why do you think so many people came to the church so many times? What did you do when you came to the church? Did you wash someone’s feet or did you take the Eucharist? Did the church look different or change a lot? What did you think about those changes? Some of the changes were very dark and some of them were beautiful. What was your favorite time coming to the church? Do you remember how many new people were baptized? Was there anything new or different in the church that you had never seen before?

Easter: The first day of Easter was last Sunday. That’s the first day out of 50 days and it seems to be one that people really like. If you came I bet you met a lot of people that you had never met before, and it was fun to have new friends on such a festive and celebratory occasion. Did you come to church on Easter morning? Did anything special happen? What happened to the alleluias that we buried a long time ago? What story did you hear? Why do you think we were having such a good time after all of the time we spent with the sad/rough stories?

The 3+4 year old class may want to abbreviate this part and can do so by talking briefly about each of these changes. Teachers in this class may want to narrate the changes a little more and then ask what the kids thought of it. Some of your children might have been in the nursery most of the week, but they might still remember some of the stories.

After your conversations share an art response together. Several are suggested below, but you are not limited to these.

Art Response

(1.) Word Art: As a class create a list of words that describe the experience of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, respectively. The create word art of the cross, the empty tomb, Eucharist, or any of the other symbols and motifs we have talked about. Here is an example of what your art might look like. If you do this, please take pictures to send me.

(2.) Alleluia Poster (older children): I have a large alleluia poster with the Lamb of God (looks like this). The poster has grapes, bread, and host of other significant symbols that your class can talk about. Most of the symbols have a story or two corresponding to our Lent, Holy Week, and Easter lessons, programming, and worship. Color in the poster together (if possible, I will hang it in your class. If you have one of the preschool classes, then I can hang it in one of the classrooms that only Holy Family uses). Older classes may have an interesting conversation about Christ as the Paschal Lamb. Didn’t we say Christ was the shepherd and we were the sheep?

(3.) Life of Jesus Cross: Make this Easter, Life of Jesus cross craft. Talk about each of the stories. We talked about all of them in Sunday School this year and many of them during the Lenten season.

(4.) Community Cross: Before your class comes in, cut a large cross out of paper, then cut it into squares of different sizes (remember to number the backs so you know in what order the pieces go. Ask each student to color one of the squares. When all are finished, put the pieces of the cross back together (together) to create a cross mosaic. You can find an example here.

(5.) Lent Journals: It isn’t Lent anymore, but it will be nice to wrap up our Lent journals with a small reflection from the other side, the Eastertide side. You may ask they to artistically depict what happened after Lent. In some of the classes you may also want to give children an opportunity to go back and finish creating something they were unable to finish. Older children might choose four or five words to describe what the experienced during each Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. Or, perhaps you would like your students to write a reflection or draw a response to the prompt “who is God?” or “Who is Jesus?” Some children may like to write/copy one of the prayers you used, or copy Psalm 23 (an image we worked with a good deal, but a text we did not). Give your students an opportunity to share what they have written or created. Since this is the last time we will use our lent journals, please send these home with the children.

Close in Prayer

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Preparation for a Day of Reflection on Holy Week and Easter Day

Welcome back! So much has happened since our last Sunday School lesson. Our children have seen Lent blossom into Easter. The move from Lent to Easter was filled with the activities of Lent and Holy Week. Since these are rich times in our Parish, we will take the next week of Sunday School to reflect on some of these events and symbols–Palm Sunday, the cross, Holy Thursday (with footwashing and the institution of the Eucharist), Good Friday, the tomb, the vigil, resurrection on Easter morning (at least the first day of the 50 days of Easter).

Below you will find the program overview for Christian Education during Lent, Holy Week, and the first day of Easter. The lesson next week will be a day for reflection. I will post some light activities, but it will be helpful to have seen this recap as you ask your students what they notice and remember from the Lenten season and the events of Holy Week (in the liturgy or in the story).

Wednesday Night Lenten Series, or “Lent un-fest”

During Lent many of our children participated in a Lenten Series on Wednesday evenings. The first week, we talked about the Good Shepherd and painted crosses with images of the sheep and Good Shepherd. Some of the children re-told the story of the Good Shepherd using pom-pom sheep and crosses. The children learned that the Good Shepherd knows each one of the sheep by name. Together we named the sheep several times before I went around the circle pointing to each sheep and lovingly bestowing upon it the name of each child in the circle. We learned that the love for each sheep is so deep that the Good Shepherd even lays down his life for the sheep.

In remembrance of God’s gracious work in liberating the Israelites from bondage and slavery in Egypt, we heard the story of Passover and then made and ate Matzo bread. We learned that the Passover meal was observed by Jesus and his disciples their whole lives and especially right before Jesus’ crucifixion. When we eat matzo bread, we can still “taste this story.”

Our third week together, we talked about the Church’s Lenten practice of almsgiving. The story of the widow who gave all she had to the temple treasury was our starting point. The children painted boxes in which they might collect coins for the poor. Next, we learned of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and made Anglican prayer beads that we might join Christ’s own prayers with ours. Many of the children wrote and created small prayers to use with their beads. During our last week together we stayed in the Garden, focusing on Jesus’ praying while his disciples kept watch. Our conversation focused on the disciples waiting with Jesus and how they fell asleep because they were tired and scared.  We remembered that we too are eagerly waiting with the disciples, waiting to see what happens next, waiting for the return of Christ. The Easter vigil, we decided, was one such time–we wait for Jesus to raise on the morning of the eighth day and we await Christ’s coming again in final victory. On this day we decorated Paschal candles with signs of the cross, Christ, victory, and resurrection.

Sunday School

As you well know, our Sunday School classes have been bustling and busy during the Lenten season. Many of our classes chose a discipline (bringing in food for a food pantry, learning the books of the Bible, going over the stations of the Cross) to work through during Lent. At music we almost always sang the Jesus Prayer song.

All of our classes heard the Godly Play story of the Good Shepherd and World Communion, a lesson which helped our children see that God calls all people to the table prepared by Christ. We meet Christ, our Good Shepherd, at the table again and again when we share the Eucharist together. In the next weeks, as we focus on some of the resurrection appearances, we will see some of these themes again–Jesus is known, remembered, and met at the table and in the food we share together just as Christ was known to his disciples at the table and in the breaking of the bread.

Our Sunday School lessons focused on the images of and relationship between the Good shepherd and the sheep through exploring the Parables of the Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep. We played sheep games, retold the story from many different perspectives,  found lost “sheep,” named sheep, read books, and asked some of the following questions: What does it mean that Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd? What does this image tell us about God? What does it tell us about the cross? And, what does this tell us about who Christ is for us? We closed our Sunday School weeks out by talking about the story of the Last Supper, a story linked to the Good Shepherd stories through our Godly Play lesson.

Holy Week

Many of our children began Holy Week with the Palm Sunday Intergenerational Event. They heard of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem, and waved palms in a processional with their families during one of the liturgies. Then, they folded palms into crosses so that they might see the symbol of Jesus death all week. On this day, the children also walked an interactive version of the Stations of the Cross where they encountered images of Christ’s journey and objects that helped them explore the story in a tactile way. Throughout the week, many of our children attended Holy Week services with their families–Holy Thursday’s foot washing and Eucharist, Good Friday’s somber service. Many of our younger children made simple Holy Week crafts in the nursery. The Holy Week services culminated in the Easter vigil which went late into the night. The children witnessed the lighting of the new fire and the Paschal candle, baptisms, confirmations and receptions, and shared in the Eucharist. Easter morning was all about fun and celebration–we said Alleluia!, unwrapped our alleluia banner, and sang the words of celebration to our heart’s content. Then, Holy Family’s children went on an egg hunt.