Celebrating JESUS WEEK
Lent is impossibly long for children – almost six weeks and no real story to go with it. That is forever! But, Holy Week lasts only eight days and is filled with action stories. Children are ready to focus for that time on the key stories of the Christian faith. For them it is Jesus Week. It begins with Palm Sunday parades at church, continues with daily telling of stories about Jesus, may lead to a special weeklong family prayer discipline, might include participation in special worship at church during the week, could include a family service project in Jesus’ honor, and concludes with the celebration of Easter. The best part about it is that it is easy for families to pull off. There are few purchases, no special equipment, and not even that much time needed. A family on a spring break can even celebrate Jesus Week as they travel.
To celebrate Jesus Week try some of the following:
On Palm Sunday bring some palm branches home. Display them prominently – in a vase on the table where you eat, pinned on the families message center, even on the refrigerator door with magnets.
Create a small worship center where it is easily seen. Spread out the palm branches, add a Bible or a few story books about Jesus, a cross or other symbol that is in your home or a coloring book picture of Jesus colored for this space.
Each day read one story about Jesus. Read from a Bible, a Bible story book, or favorite story books about Jesus. Near the end of the week read or tell even young children a story about Jesus being killed. And, don’t forget to read the Easter story at home on Easter Sunday. (Young children may not get the connection between the stories they hear at church and the ones they hear at home and so think that Jesus is still dead.)
Pray the Lord’s Prayer together once each day this week. For younger children this may be an introduction to the prayer Jesus taught us. For older children it could be a chance to talk about one specific phrase as you pray it each day.
Do something to care for others in Jesus’ honor this week.
Buy a sack of unperishable groceries and take them to a food pantry to feed a hungry family.
If your congregation collects a special Lenten offering, add coins (and bills!) each day to a special bowl or bank. Count it before taking it church on Easter.
Especially if you are traveling pay attention to the people who help you along your way and find ways to say thank you. Leave a “thank you for our clean room” poster for the hotel maid. Talk about tipping and leave an extra generous tip for a waiter. Point out and thank the family member who does the driving or packs the bags and does the laundry. Etc. Do this to honor Jesus who always paid attention to the people around him.
Or, another serving project that fits your family this year.
If your family includes musicians learn a new song about Jesus together.
And, do plan for your family to attend one or more of the week’s worship services. These story oriented services call children to remember the stories on the anniversaries of the very night they happened. They also prove to children that the stories belong to the whole congregation, not just their family.
To get you started on celebrating Jesus Week at home here is a list of stories to read each day from the Bible. Print it and cut it into a bookmark. Traveling families only need this bookmark and a Bible – or might even depend on finding a Gideon Bible in their room.
The Holy Week Story
Sunday Luke 22:24-27 Who is the greatest?
Monday Luke 22:7-20 The Last Supper
Tuesday Luke 22:47-53 Jesus is arrested
Wednesday Luke 22:54-62 Peter denies Jesus
Thursday Luke 23:13-25 Pilate condemns Jesus
Friday Luke 23:33-49 Jesus is Crucified
Saturday Luke 23:50-56 Jesus is Buried
Easter Luke 24:1-12 The Tomb is Empty