Good Friday, A Day of Sorrow and Joy

 

Good Friday is a solemn day in the Christian calendar. It commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of special prayer and fasting. We reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made in dying for our sins. We consider His humility in submitting to His Father’s will.

But Good Friday is also a day of joy. It is a time for us to remember the depth of God’s love for us, which is revealed in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)  It is that love Paul spoke of in his letter to the Romans, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).

Tonight, I will attend a candlelight church service to reflect and pray on the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross. Yes, I will rejoice with my brothers and sisters on Easter Sunday when we celebrate Jesus’s glorious Resurrection, but tonight I will also allow a bit of joy into my heart as I remember how deeply God loves us.

The Last Supper Brought to Life

Throughout the week we have been sharing ideas on this website on how to bring meaning and perspective to the Easter story.  Understanding the ‘meaning’ of Easter is exactly what I had in mind when hosting a Last Supper for my family.   Let me say up front that this need not be a time consuming project!  I easily put this together using items we had on hand.  While simple to put together however, I think the impact on my family was far reaching.  I hope you find this a helpful guide for having your own Last Supper.

Our meal started with reading the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet from John 13:3-30.  We use The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkids which gives an age appropriate interpretation of the scripture – perfect for my 6, 3 and 1 year olds.

My 3 year old pouring the water to the basin

My 6 year old washing my 1 year olds little feet

As I watched my children wash each others feet, I was struck that as a parent of young kids this is something I regularly do.  However, It was touching to see them so lovingly and carefully cleaning the feet of their sisters.  We discussed with the girls how by serving each other we are showing our love.

We then sat down for our simple feast and read the story of the last supper from Matthew 26:17-29.  The girls especially liked how similar our table looked to the one shown in their Bible.

Our ‘Last Supper’

We prayed over our meal, broke bread and shared our ‘wine’ (okay the sparkling juice may have been the real highlight!).  The concept of metaphors is not one easily understood by young children, but the idea that when you break bread you should think of Jesus is one they grabbed onto.  As we sat around the table sharing our simple foods we talked about Jesus and how he might have been feeling and they had tons of questions.  While we read our Bible together regularly, immersing ourselves in the experience really brought it to life for all of us and I hope brought a better understanding to the true meaning of Easter.

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Hearts Prepared for Resurrection Day

Resurrection Day is fast approaching. While we focus most of our thoughts on Sunday, interspersing activities throughout the weekend will help our families prepare their hearts for Sunday.

Here are some ideas for you:

Thursday: Attend a Maundy Thursday service in your area or create one at home over a candle lit dinner.

Read Scriptures based upon the days leading up to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion (Matthew 26:20-25: Last Supper. Judas’ betrayal, Matthew 26:31-35: Jesus predicts Peter’s denial, Mark 14:32-41: Gethsemane. Jesus pleading with his disciples, Matthew 26:47-52: Jesus arrested, Luke 22:54-62: Peter denies Jesus, John 18:33-38a- Jesus before Pilate, Matthew 27:20-26: Pilate pleads w/ the crowd. The crowd cries “Crucify Him”, Mark 15: 16-20: Jesus led out to be crucified, Psalm 22:1-11: Jesus last words on the cross).

Blow out the candles at the end of the last scripture and dismiss the family for quiet time for the rest of the evening. For little ones, this may have to be altered but for older elementary or older, the children could be led in a family prayer and then they could retreat to time alone and write their own prayers of thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice.

Friday: Good Friday family movie night and/or bedtime stories. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Preschool age: An Easter Carol or ‘Twas the Night Before Easter (Veggie Tales). Also, check out the author’s pages on this website for age appropriate books.
  • Primary-Jr. High: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (great symbolism of Christ through Aslan).
  • High school and adult: The Passion of the Christ

Saturday: Old-fashioned Resurrection Eggs. Before you could purchase Resurrection Eggs, my mother and I made our own. Here’s how: prick a pin hole in both ends of a raw egg. Blow out the contents of the raw egg into a small mixing bowl. Repeat for all your eggs. Cover and refrigerate the raw egg mixture for Resurrection Morning omelets. Proceed to color your fragile shells with your favorite egg coloring kit and display in a fun way on your dining room table.

Sunday Morning: Resurrection Omelets. Prepare your favorite ingredients to go into your salvaged egg mixture from Saturday and create a quick and easy family omelet or scramble. Discuss how the empty egg shells on the table symbolize Jesus’ empty tomb on the first Resurrection Day and just like we’re swallowing what was inside the shell, Jesus’ resurrection swallowed up death once and for all. We no longer have to fear death because if we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are promised eternal life.

Attend worship services together.

Sunday Dinner: Resurrection Rolls. Using a refrigerated package of crescent rolls, roll a marshmallow into the center of the roll and bake. When you bite into the roll, the marshmallow has disappeared!

Happy Resurrection Day!

Dawn

Generational Blessings

My mother turned 90 last fall, so we had an open house for her after church. Over 200 friends and family members joined us in celebrating her birthday. Our family is blessed that she is still going strong at her age. She is physically and mentally healthy, she lives in her own home, and still drives to the grocery store. She plays the piano in the “old folks” home (as she describes it), providing lunchtime music for people who are younger than she is.

Our family is blessed to have a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who can still be an active part of our lives. Our blessings, however, go far beyond her mental and physical health. As I looked around the fellowship hall on the day of her open house, I saw four generations of blessed people. On both my mother’s side and my father’s side, our Christian heritage goes back farther than I can trace. My siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and their children are blessed because our forefathers and mothers lived in obedience to God’s word.  We have been blessed with spiritual wisdom and knowledge—taught to us from the day we were born. We have been spared many of life’s tragedies and sorrows because of the obedience of those who walked before us. Though our extended families are far from perfect, most of them are walking with the Lord and passing on the faith to the next generation. In Exodus 20:6 God tells us, “I lavish my love on those who love me and keep my commandments, even for a thousand generations.” (NLT)

The older I get, the more I realize the truth of that promise. I also realize that many people are not so blessed as they witness and experience generational sins being passed on from one generation to the next.  But here’s the great news: no one is without hope! In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (NLT) 

If you are not living under a generational blessing of godly ancestors, you can be a catalyst for change. Those who become Christians are new creatures in Christ. They no longer live under the generational sins of their ancestors. New believers can be the first of many blessed generations, so that those who follow can know the joy of living a life of faith. If you are living with a firm faith and foundation in Jesus Christ, then your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be blessed as you pass down your faith. God’s love will be lavished upon them.

If I live to be 90, I hope that I will be strong and healthy like my mother. But more importantly, I hope and pray that those who come after me, will be followers of Jesus Christ. “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children live in the truth.” 3 John 1:4 (NLT)

          Great-grandma

        Great-granddaughter

 

Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Too Soon!

I’ve enjoyed my share of egg hunts, Easter baskets, and milk-chocolate bunnies. But it may be time to lift the resurrection of Jesus Christ above the adventures of the Easter Bunny to teach our children about the living hope we have in Jesus.

A common objection to moving beyond chicks and chocolate is that younger children are too impressionable to be exposed to the horrors of crucifixion. Since they do not really understand the concept of death, how can they be expected to understand the concept of resurrection?

One of the biggest mistakes we can make, however, is to underestimate what children are capable of understanding.

You may think, “I’m not creative enough to teach these things. Besides, isn’t this the job of Sunday School teachers?” But being creative doesn’t require a particular job title. Teachable moments occur in the course of daily activities with your child, which then become the basis for learning truth.

One truth (that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins, for example) can be reinforced through Bible passages, stories, music, finger-plays, and other activities.

Lessons about life and death can be found in illustrations as simple as the life cycle of a plant. Allow your child to plant seeds and watch them grow. Then let them observe a dead plant or flower. Conversations about the death of a pet may also open doors for discussion.

Explaining the crucifixion to a child doesn’t need to include harsh details. It may be enough to say something like, “Jesus loves us so much that He died on the cross to take our punishment for the things we do wrong. Then He did what no one else could do. He didn’t stay dead, and because He is alive we can be friends with God forever.”

Storytelling is another terrific way to communicate the truth of the Resurrection. Even the youngest child has felt sad when separated from those he loves. We can tell the story of Jesus’ death and describe how sad Jesus’ friends were because they thought they would never see Him again. Then we can describe their joy when they discovered He didn’t remain in the tomb. Instead of being overwhelmed by the sadness that accompanies death, the child learns about the joy we have because Jesus is alive.

For two- and three-year-olds, visual aids are helpful. Older preschoolers can hold up props to participate in the story time. Adults can act out a scene for the very young. Elementary children can read the scene or act it out. Adolescents can act it out, role-play, or write their own scenes.

Children will enjoy acting out the disciples’ amazement and joy in learning that Jesus is alive and that He made the way for us to live forever with Him.

Or illustrate the resurrection in the kitchen with this fun recipe for Resurrection Rolls. Allow your children to help you by inserting the marshmallow in the center of crescent roll dough. After baking, the marshmallow disappears!

While there are many excellent Bible story books and children’s resource materials, don’t underestimate the importance of using the Bible itself. Schedule a daily time with to read together, but limit the time based on your child’s age and attention span.

Depending on the age of your children, they may not fully understand the events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But as they learn, they can share your joy as you celebrate Easter together. It’s never too soon to begin!