Holy Week worship services are full of meaningful and dramatic traditions of the church - waving palms, processions, Bible readings sometimes longer or read responsively, striping the altar, departing sans benediction - in silence, and some of the best hymns of the year. The Tenebrae vespers service of Good Friday includes the overtaking darkness, as the Light of the World is extinguished - crucified for the salvation of the world. At the end of the service, all is completely dark and then it happens.
It is finished!
Christ has died! It is finished!
The earth has quaked, the curtain torn! It is finished!
The tomb is sealed! It is finished!
Our salvation is secured!
Especially with young children, but really with children of all ages, it is important to prepare them for what they can expect to see and hear during these unique services and why.Here’s one simple idea that my children have enjoyed. Last weekend we gathered all of our Holy Week and Easter books. After reading each book, we slam it shut as loudly as possible! It's great fun! By talking about this loud noise and what it means now, the children will anticipate it, begin to understand it, and hopefully not cry in startled fear this Good Friday. We’ll see!
Here are a few notes about the two books pictured here. Pete’s favorite book this season has been Things I See At Easter by Julie Stiegemeyer. There is nothing sweeter than seeing little Pete walk toward me, book in hand, huge smile on his face, then turn his little body around and plop himself down expecting a loving lap to collect him and read to him. Adelae likes the simple board book because she can “read” it herself! I like it because it follows all of Holy Week with an emphasis on all that Jesus gives us during the Easter Season.
Adelae’s favorite book has been The First Easter by Lois Rock. There are words and even whole sentences that I have stubbornly edited out of this book, but the pictures are nice and it tells the whole Easter story from Palm Sunday through Pentecost. Adelae has this book memorized too, and has been especially interested in the geographical details.