Saturday, April 7, 2012

Preparing Kids for Easter

As born again Christians, Easter is a special time to contemplate the death of Christ and celebrate His resurrection. I know that Easter was originally a pagan holiday, but to me, that is not what is important now. Christians have claimed this holiday as a time to reflect on Christ and that is what I want to teach my children. Here are a few things we do in preparation of Easter.

We love our Jesus Storybook Bible written by Sally Loyd-Jones and read the passages covering Easter over and over. We read it so often, the binding is disintegrating. Sally gently portrays the pain and utter rejection Christ suffered on our behalf. I believe it is important for our children to feel sadness over Christ’s death. If they feel the heaviness of Good Friday, they will feel the joy on Easter morning so much more.

A friend recently pointed me to this blog post on creating Resurrection eggs. We were able to better explain the meaning of each of the Scriptures using the tangible items in the eggs. Be forewarned though. If your kids are five and under, expect a little confusion over casting lots and how it relates to rolling dice (I don’t think we succeeded in explaining it). We will open the final, empty egg tomorrow!

At our church, we have a series of services leading up to Easter. It makes Easter morning a glorious time because the last few days have been preparing our hearts and leading up to joy of the resurrection.

Every year we attend the Maundy Thursday Supper. We have a simple meal of beans, bread, and water. This year when Clara asked why we don’t have dessert, we explained that we remove all of the exciting touches to a meal so we are concentrating on what Christ has done for us on the cross. We talked to her what Christ gave up for us and told her we are remembering His sacrifice by giving up extras like cheese on our beans and something sweet after dinner. Then the congregation reads the passages in Matthew leading up to His death and sings several solemn songs.

Our church holds something I was unfamiliar with at first, but have grown to love and look forward to every year. We start a sixty hour prayer vigil on Thursday night after the Maundy Thursday Supper and continue until the early morning service on Easter morning. Someone is always at the church day and night praying through the whole time. We go to pray as a family now. This year we had the girls make up a list of prayer requests. They prayed with us for about fifteen minutes and then we allowed them to play in the nursery quietly while the adults prayed the last forty-five minutes. We hope as they grow older, they will begin to look at this as a very sacred time, a time to literally kneel before the cross (hanging in our church) and commune with a most holy God.

We attend the early morning service and the later service on Sunday. The girls end up being cranky later in the day, but it is worth it! I will always remember the first time I attended the Easter services after spending the days preceding it in prayer and remembering. The joy was so tangible, I was moved to tears. The girls can feel the joy of fellow Christians worshiping a risen Savior and I can’t think of a better way to encourage our girls to long for a personal relationship with Him.

We read a book which reminds us that Easter is not about pretty dresses or hunting eggs or baby chicks. We reinforce this because for the past two years, we have new baby chicks. It actually has given us the opportunity to talk to the girls about the new life that comes in the spring. Then we talk about the new life we can have through believing in Christ as our personal Savior.

May you have a blessed Easter! As we say at our church, “Christ has risen! He has risen indeed.”

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