Easter is hands-down my favorite holiday. Nothing compares to standing in the sanctuary with family and church family and singing of Jesus' victory over death and sin. I want to blubber over with tears of joy/gratefulness/emotion every time. Of course, all of the bunnies and chicks and pretty colors of spring just add to it.
I have no problem with said bunnies and chicks (and yes, I know the pagan origins), and we'll even be dying eggs later this week. But I have always been at a loss with how to best share the true beauty and meaning of Easter with my kids. Until this year!
It came to me on Sunday afternoon, and Greg and I decided to spend time each evening this week studying with our kids what the week of Jesus' crucifixion was like. What was he doing each day of the week, knowing his death was only days away?
We are all loving our study and activities so much that I already know I want to do this again next year. I also know myself: I could write it all down on a piece of paper and a)lose the paper or b)put it away and forget where I put it. The safest way to record what we are doing is to blog it. So here it is, Part I. :)
Read the account of Jesus' 'triumphal entry' into Jerusalem from Matthew 21, and from a story book.
Each child cut palm leaves from green construction paper.
They worked together to create a donkey.
We sang a couple of "Hosanna" songs, then laid our leaves in the floor for our donkey to walk on. I wouldn't have been opposed to a paper Jesus to ride the donkey, but I'm pretty much just winging this!
Our study began with a quick discussion of the Old Testament practice of sacrificing. We named some of the animals that were sacrificed, then each boy made a paper dove.
We read on Sunday that Jesus was spending the nights this week in Bethany and traveling into Jerusalem during the day. On Monday we read from Mark 11:11-14 about Jesus cursing the fig tree on the way into town that morning (important for Tuesday!). We then continued in verses 15-19 about how Jesus cleared the temple of all the money-changers and sellers. While we read the boys colored pictures of the story.
Tuesday started with the disciples discovery of the fig tree Jesus had cursed on Monday being wilted. We made a quick note of that before going on to the rest of the lesson.
There is a lot recorded in the gospels of Jesus' teachings on Tuesday. He spent time in the temple (where he was tested by the religious leaders) and on the Mt of Olives (where he taught his disciples). We read 3 selections from all these teachings:
The question of paying taxes to Caesar - Matthew 22:15-22. Each boy drew on a circle of paper what he thought a Roman coin might look like.
The Greatest Commandment - Matthew 22:34-40. We covered this partly because verses 37-39 are one of our weekly memory verses and the boys enjoyed hearing it in context.
The Parable of the Talents - Matthew 25:14-30. As I read the passage from Matthew, we did our own re-enactment of the story. Daddy grabbed a handful of pennies and the boys lined up in front of him oldest to youngest. I was the 'marketplace' where they did there trading and investing to double their money. Except for Tyler. He 'buried' his under the table and went back to working on his Roman coins. :)
We ended the evening with a discussion of how these three passages are related. If we love God with all our "heart and soul and mind" we are going to surrender all that he has given us and serve him. When we give him what is duly his (our life that he bought with his blood) we show him our love and are in return "good and faithful servants" to him.
Each one of us is enjoying this time together in God's word and I think the readings and activities are definitely adding meaning to Easter week! Can't wait to see what we pull out of a hat the rest of the week. Thanking God for his inspiration and praying he blesses it!