We’re now in Holy Week, where Lent morphs into Easter.
In my house we’ll continue lighting our Lenten candles and saying the sentences about Jesus that go with them, but there are plenty of other special things coming along this week that can take their own place in household spirituality.
So here’s a bunch of ideas for how you can bring out the meaning of the week for kids of all ages. It’s a fairly arbitrary list and I bet you’ll be able to add to it – so please do so in the comments below.
Let me say, right at the start: just pick one! Or two or three – but not 32, ok? This isn’t a To Do list, it’s a smorgasbord of options to make life a little easier as you celebrate Easter with the kids in your life.
So without further ado:
Around the Table
- Give thanks. Take turns saying what you’re most grateful for this Easter. If you’d like some memorable structure to this, you could start a Gratitude Wall.
- Invite someone for a meal. Easter is about God’s extravagant love to humanity. Share some of it around to someone who could use the company and friendship.
- Incorporate Easter symbols in your meals. I’ve collected a bunch of ideas on my Easter Pinterest board – how handy!
- Tell baptism stories. Easter is traditionally the time new people are brought into full church membership through baptism (though it often doesn’t work this way in modern churches). You could start an Easter tradition of each person present telling a story of their own baptism or even of other people’s you have witnessed. Remember that kids won’t even know you’ve been baptised if you don’t tell them out loud, in words!
- Read Joy Cowley’s The Easter Story together, the best Easter book I know for kids (and adults!)
In a Household Meeting
Easter is traditionally a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. Why not make Easter the time of year for annual reviews of all sorts of home stuff? Like:
- Increase pocket money or pay rates (just an annual adjustment by the rate of inflation, I mean!)
- Buy new clothes. If you would be buying a winter coat or summer swimming gear around this time anyway, make it a big deal that Easter is a time for new clothes. Maybe you could all go to a charity shop/op shop together to pick out new things, to participate in the ‘resurrection’ of pre-loved clothes?
- Review responsibilities. Is your eight-year-old ready for the challenge of cooking dinner of doing the grocery shopping online? Would someone like to swap from recycling to vacuuming as a weekly responsibility?
- Chat about your household spirituality. Would people like to do something together in the post-Easter period? Search Pinterest or ask friends for some ideas. Would you like to read a nourishing book together each night? Narnia? Start a gratitude wall or other creative activity? Do people want to pray more together or more by themselves? Get older kids and adults to have a look at Ten Ways to Pray for some more ideas.
- Discuss your charitable giving. Are there new initiatives you want to support? New ways of saving money in order to give it away? Do kids want to have responsibility for some giving? Again, remember that kids may not even be aware of half your charitable activity, and if you are to leave a legacy of generosity, they need to be apprenticed into it.
- What other things do you tend to decide on together at family meetings? I’d love to hear your experiences, so please leave a comment below.
Depending on where you live, different things will be on offer, including plenty of special services at churches you don’t normally attend. This is a great time of year to branch out and accept the hospitality of other congregations and benefit from the wisdom of different traditions.
Google is your friend. For any of the ideas below, plug the title into a search engine and see what’s on offer near you.
- Footwashing service: Anglican and other churches often do these on Thursday nights.
- Stripping of the Altar: usually on Thursday night, often as part of another service.
- Tenebrae/Service of the Shadows: Thursday night, Friday morning or Saturday night are most usual, but just google these phrases for local services.
- Seder/Passover dinner: perhaps with Jewish friends or someone from your local Jewish community centre.
- Stations of the Cross. This traditional Catholic prayer practice has had a resurgence in the Protestant world lately, often incorparating modern art. Is someone near you offering a version of the Stations? (My church is holding a Stations video installation on Friday night if you’re in Wellington!)
- Roman Catholic Good Friday mass, at 3pm anywhere in the world.
- Ecumenical Walk for Justice, also on Good Friday around the world. Plug the phrase into Google to see who’s gathering in your part of the world.
- Easter Vigil on Saturday night.
- Check your local Cathedral or other major church for other special offerings.
- Hold an Easter Feast on Sunday. Invite someone who needs it.
- Visit the nearest Easter Camp for young people, whatever age you are. Pop into one of the sessions and see what youthful spirituality is like these days :).
Arty and Crafty
There are lots of things to do and make. Pinterest has dozens of great ideas if these don’t grab you.
- Stained glass cross
- Easter egg terrariums
- The Martha Stewart guide to dyeing Easter eggs!
- Marbled easter eggs
- Make a prayer tree of people you want to remember over the next few weeks (or the whole year – you could change the photos each Easter)
In the Kitchen
- Hot cross buns: breadmaker fruit or chocolate versions; Alison Holst’s classic ones.
- Easter egg-shaped cookies: steal the idea and use any recipe you like, especially if you have special diets to cater for.
- Resurrection rolls: very popular in North America, but I admit I have no idea what some of these ingredients are! Maybe someone can enlighten us as to how to make this kind of thing from scratch?
- Chocolate rice crispy nests: also good for catering for allergies.
Out and About
- If you have a good Christian book shop near you, perhaps Easter could be a good time for a trip there all together. Pick some music to play on the stereo in the lounge, or a book to read together at bedtime, or give each person a bit of cash to choose something of their very own.
- If you have a bit of spare money, maybe you could give a struggling household a few envelopes of cash for that kind of shopping trip.
- Walk a prayer labyrinth if there’s one nearby (just Google it), or do your own three-part version walking around your neighbourhood.
- Bring new life to your local area by doing some tree-planting or rubbish-collecting.
Ok, what’s number 33? What have you done to celebrate the week’s events with kids that has been memorable or fun or helpful (or – holy grail – all three!)?
Please do leave a comment below with your ideas and feedback. Thanks!
Check out my Easter and Lent Pinterest boards for more ideas – though possibly you (like me) should stop searching and start just doing something that’s already on our horizon from this list or elsewhere :).
And you are warmly invited to visit the Sacraparental Facebook page for daily extras and interactions.
Lastly, you might like to check out this introduction to Easter I wrote for a non-churchy audience last year at Kiwi Families. Upon re-reading it this week, I found I was quite proud of it!