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Good Friday with children

With thanks to Carolyn Brown and her book Sharing the Easter Faith With Children.

Dear parents and caregivers,

I’ve been thinking about you and your children a lot in these last couple of weeks. Please know that the staff of St. Luke’s and I are praying for you as you balance the holy work of caring for yourselves and your children / young adults during this stressful and uncertain time.

Our Good Friday worship is live on Facebook tonight at 7:00 p.m. Since we know that both the time, and also the material, may not be as accessible to the younger members of our congregation, I want to provide some ideas if you’d like to observe Good Friday in your home this weekend.

This does not need to be a major undertaking. The main thing is to tell the story at some point during the day: at a meal, at bedtime, or during a quiet story time.

  • It’s important to fill in the details between the story of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Read from your Bible at home (Matthew 26:14–27:66 or John 14:1-38, 18:1–19:42) or from a children’s Bible, or retell in your own words.
  • One idea to remember the major points of the story is to break it up in “chapters” and talk about each part: 1. The Last Supper, 2. Jesus prays in the garden, 3. Jesus is arrested, 4. Jesus is sentenced to death, 5. Peter denies Jesus, 6. Jesus is killed, 7. Jesus is buried.
  • It might be easier to talk about the story while doing another activity, like coloring a picture of the cross, making a cross out of craft materials, or baking hot cross buns.

It can be hard to talk about death or understand what it means to have “new life.” That’s normal and it’s okay. Easter is a mystery that will keep taking on new meaning as we grow.

  • For the youngest children, try focusing on the victory of God. The bad guys (the soldiers, Judas, the devil) thought they had stopped Jesus when they killed him and put him away in a sealed tomb. But On Easter morning, it turned out that God won! Hooray! God’s love wins on Easter.
  • For older elementary children, try focusing on the friendship story of Peter. Watch what happens when one of Jesus’s closest friends promises to never leave Jesus (John 13), and then breaks that promise (John 18). After Jesus is raised from the dead, he comes back to Peter, and they have a conversation about what love really means (John 21). I wonder what resurrection and forgiveness felt like to Peter?
  • For young adults (or yourselves), try asking each other to explain the meaning of the cross and resurrection in our own words, or to write about it in a journal. Why does the cross matter to you? What does the cross show you about God? How does it make you feel?

The African American spiritual Were You There is a great song for children because the words repeat and the verses tell the story:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?…

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?…

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?…

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?…

When you’re done telling the story, say a prayer together, using your own words or the following: Dear God, thank you for the cross. Thank you for your love. Help us and forgive us. Bring us to Easter. Amen.

Blessed Good Friday,
Pastor Erin

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