By Wendy Berghane
Easter is upon us. Families are making Easter dinner plans, maybe buying new outfits, and preparing for egg hunts and baskets. It is a joyous day in the Christian calendar, without a doubt, but just celebrating the resurrection doesn’t give you the whole story…
Holy Week, the week before Resurrection Sunday, holds so much opportunity for a deeper understanding of the gift of Jesus. It begins with Jesus arriving in Jerusalem to a crowd of cheering people waving palm branches and moves through the final days and hours before his death. The story then ends with the glorious revelation that Jesus rose from the dead. Skipping over Holy Week and moving right into Easter is like skipping to the end of a movie without watching it in its entirety. You know how the story ends, but you don’t truly grasp the story’s significance as a whole. The last days of Jesus’ time on Earth we reflect upon during Holy Week hold so much insight into why the end of the story, the resurrection and eternal life, is amazing and worth celebrating! Without the whole story, we lack true understanding. So why not use this time in the liturgical calendar to help your family grow in their faith by walking through Holy Week together! Don’t just skip to the end of the story. Give your family, kids included, the gift of knowing the entire story.
I know what you may be thinking, Holy Week is not all sunshine and rainbows. The final days of Christ’s time on earth were hard. And ugly. How am I supposed to explain all that to my children?
Whenever I talk about Holy Week with kids, I like to focus on how Jesus’ life had ups and downs, just like ours do. Children can relate to happy and sad memories and understand those moments when they feel joy and love and also scared or anxious. This is the beauty of Jesus. He is relatable. And Holy Week was a time in Jesus’ life where he went through a lot of ups and downs and had a lot of different emotions:
There were moments of celebration, like when he returned to Jerusalem. The people greeted him by waving palm branches and shouting Hosanna!
There were challenging and hard times, like when the Pharisees tried to hurt him and say really awful things about him. And when his own friends turned their backs on him.
There were times of love and friendship as he ate his last meal with his friends and showed us how to serve others by washing his disciples’ feet.
There were quiet times as he prayed and worked through anxious thoughts by putting his total trust in God.
There were times of great sadness, like when Jesus was hurt and placed on the cross.
And there were times of great joy when he rose from the grave and went to live in heaven with God and put all our sin in the grave forever!
Even though pieces of the story are heavy, I always like to remind kids it’s not the end. The story does not end with sadness. Just like our life won’t end with sadness. I also love to point out God NEVER left Jesus’ side. He was there in the celebrations, the sadness, the quiet times, and even death. God never left. And he will never leave us.
Holy Week shows us God’s plans for Jesus were good, even though it was a tough journey. Because of Jesus, we don’t ever have to worry about death separating us from him. This helps us trust God’s plans for us are good too. And even though we will have ups and downs, God doesn’t leave us to figure it out on our own. He walks with us, helps us, leads us, and brings goodness even from the darkest moments.
So this year, don’t skip to the end of the story. Walk through Holy Week together with your family. Use this time to follow Jesus through the ups and downs of his last days in human form. Let this week draw you closer to a Savior who knows how hard and unfair life can be. Take this opportunity to teach your children that just like Jesus, we can trust God because he loves us and makes all things good. This Holy Week, get to know the whole story.
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