Holy Week House Party 2023
By Kevin Johnson
We hope that this Holy Week and Easter Season will differ from the years prior for your entire family. This year, families will be gathering again with their church families to celebrate an Easter egg hunt or to observe Holy Week activities. The following is designed for families to provide a continuation of conversations around the events that led up to Easter morning. We applaud families that take the opportunity to share the stories of Holy Week and Easter together and are excited that we can do so again with our church family.
This Holy Week Scavenger Hunt/Easter Egg Hunt activity can be used in a variety of ways. The activities could be done throughout Holy Week or in their entirety on Easter Sunday. We recognize that, for some, this Holy Week/Easter Egg Hunt might take place entirely indoors due to weather conditions. Or families might be able to join with neighboring families. Others may want to use this resource for the entire church family. This resource is designed with flexibility in mind. We encourage finding creative ways for your families to celebrate this Easter Season.
It is recommended that you use this resource in combination with Discipleship Ministries’ worship resource, “In Awe of Grace,” for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday worship.
Due to certain limitations, you might not have plastic eggs to stuff and hide. There are a variety of options to use this resource. For example, you can have children hunt for objects around the house without using eggs at all. Obviously, some activities are not required to have eggs. We also recommend that you customize and adjust this resource to make it unique to your situation.
Whether these activities are done throughout Holy Week or on Easter Sunday, dedicate a specific place in your house. This might mean setting up a dedicated area of a room to place each egg and object in a small box. You could set up a worship station or designate an altar area.
Be creative in how you use this resource. Create ways to share your Holy Week and Easter activities. For example, you might place the objects on a windowsill or write scripture verses or draw the objects in sidewalk chalk on your driveway. Participate together as a family by creating a new family ritual that celebrates the Risen Christ. This will remain a significant part of your family’s faith traditions.
Materials needed (all things found around the house):
- Holy Week Mirror Hanger (Place it on the rearview mirror of the car for family discussion questions throughout the week.)
- Box with a lid (shoebox)
- Eggs (plastic Easter eggs or hardboiled eggs)
- Coat/cloak template
- Paper and crayons/markers/colored pencils
- Bath and body (or foaming) soap
- Hand towel or washcloth
- Basin or bowl
- Paper towels
- Tealight or Christmas tree bulb
- Play-doh or modeling clay (if available)
- Nail (careful!)
- Nail template
- Popsicle sticks/toothpicks/twigs from the yard
- Dark cloth
- Drum (or something to bang, such as pots and pans)
Daily Egg Art instructions:
This Holy Week resource offers a daily egg art activity. Include the eggs you create during this week in your traditional Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning. After the eggs have been collected, have the children talk about the true meaning of Easter. As the eggs are opened, have the children share the story using the art as a guide. There are two different options regarding the egg art. One is to fill a plastic egg, and the other is to use hardboiled eggs and crayons.
*You may incorporate these eggs into your churchwide egg hunt as well. If you do, spend time allowing multiple children to discuss and describe the significance of each egg and their understanding of how the egg is applied to the Easter message.
- Holy Week Mirror Hanger
- Coat/cloak template
- Nail template
- Holy Week House Party Spanish Translation (PDF)
- Holy Week Mirror Hanger Spanish Translation
Matthew 21:1-11 NIRV
21 As they all approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage. It was on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two disciples. 2 He said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a donkey tied up. Her colt will be with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them. The owner will send them right away.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet would come true. It says,
5 “Say to the city of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you.
He is gentle and riding on a donkey.
He is riding on a donkey’s colt.’” (Zechariah 9:9)
6 The disciples went and did what Jesus told them to do. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt. They placed their coats on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their coats on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Some of the people went ahead of him, and some followed. They all shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:26)
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. The people asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus. He is the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Coat/cloak paper template
Cut out a coat from the template. Place the cutout on the ground and take turns shouting, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
*To reinforce, find in your Bible and read Psalm 118:26 together.
Cut out a coat for each person in the home if you want. Lay some blankets or clothes on the ground and shout, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Children are to go to the end of their driveway (with adult supervision) or church parking lot and place coats on the ground and shout the same saying to the people, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” How loud can you shout?
Draw a coat/cloak on a small piece of paper and place the drawing in your plastic egg. Or draw an outline of a coat on a hardboiled egg.
It’s Palm Sunday. The people shouted and cheered as Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Talk about a time you have been to a parade. Do you remember how people crowded together to see the parade? Children are on the shoulders of adults just to see. Sometimes when a crowd gathers for a parade it becomes difficult to see. How do you think the children felt trying to see Jesus during this parade? The crowd welcomed Jesus into the town. I wonder how you can welcome Jesus into your life this week. I wonder why coats on the ground was a sign of welcome. How can your family welcome Jesus into your home? What are ways that we in our family make people feel welcome when they come to visit?
Hosanna! God, we give you thanks for the blessing that you sent us in Jesus. Give us opportunities to be a blessing to others by welcoming Jesus into our house. Amen.
John 12:35-36 NIRV
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light. Do this before darkness catches up with you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in it. Then you can become children of light.” When Jesus had finished speaking, he left and hid from them.
Find a space of about fifteen feet of distance between two points in your house or church. Walk from point “A” to point “B.” It seems easy to do so with the lights on. Return to point “A” and have someone turn off the lights. Does it become very dark? DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WALK THE DISTANCE WITH THE LIGHTS OFF. Does the darkness create fear? Are you afraid to try to walk in the dark? Use a flashlight to take steps toward point “B.” How helpful is the use of the light? Did the light remove fear?
Scatter some Easter eggs in a yard (one that is safe to navigate in the dark). Wait for darkness to fall and try to find the eggs without light. Take a few minutes to reflect. Did the darkness make it more difficult? Are you somewhat more scared because of the darkness? Are you afraid to take steps in the darkness?
Then try to retrieve eggs with the use of a flashlight. Was the light helpful in finding the eggs? Compare the experiences of hunting eggs in darkness and with help of a flashlight.
Find a small Christmas tree light or tealight that might fit into a plastic egg to remember that Jesus is the light. Or draw a candle on the side of a hardboiled egg.
Jesus reminds us that we are scared and may be filled with fear when it’s dark. We must trust in him to remove the fear. He is the light that we need to help overcome those fears found in scary situations of life.
I wonder how it feels to be scared. How could relying on the comfort of Jesus help us feel safe?
God of comfort, we are thankful that Jesus is the light of the world that shows us the way, even in frightening and scary times. Amen.
John 13:1-17 NIRV
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
13 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world. It was time for him to go to the Father. Jesus loved his disciples who were in the world. So he now loved them to the very end.
2 They were having their evening meal. The devil had already tempted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. He had urged Judas to hand Jesus over to his enemies. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put everything under his power. He also knew he had come from God and was returning to God. 4 So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciples’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter. “Lord,” Peter said to him, “are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t realize now what I am doing. But later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter. “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you can’t share life with me.”
9 “Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet! Wash my hands and my head too!”
10 Jesus answered, “People who have had a bath need to wash only their feet. The rest of their body is clean. And you are clean. But not all of you are.” 11 Jesus knew who was going to hand him over to his enemies. That was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When Jesus finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes. Then he returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You are right. That is what I am. 14 I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you. 16 What I’m about to tell you is true. A slave is not more important than his master. And a messenger is not more important than the one who sends him. 17 Now you know these things. So you will be blessed if you do them.
Wash another person’s hands or feet within your home. Use some fragranced soap. Use a washcloth and hand towel. Sing “Jesus Loves Me” while you wash. Use the adapted version of the song, found on the car hanger tag included in this Holy House Party resource.
“Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones that do believe
Life eternal they’ll receive
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.”
Use sweet-smelling soap (to remind us of the smell of cleanliness) and warm water to cleanse hands or feet. Then dry the hands or feet with a towel.
Cut a piece of paper towel into a small square to represent the towel that Jesus used to wash the disciples’ feet and place it in a plastic egg. Or draw a towel on the side of a hardboiled egg.
Jesus’ attitude of servanthood was the direct opposite of others, including Judas’s understanding. Jesus demonstrated humility as he reminded his followers to put others before themselves.
I wonder how dirty the disciples’ feet really were? I wonder what they thought as their teacher, Jesus, was doing something they thought was beneath him? I wonder how the dust and dirt piles up in the corners and under furniture in my house? I wonder how God made it so that no matter how dirty something is, once we notice it, we can clean it up? I wonder how it feels to put someone else before yourself? How could serving (putting their needs before your own) help us feel humble?
God of joy, we are thankful that Jesus reminds us that being humble and putting others before ourselves is a joyous way to live and to remember him. Help us always remember to be the example of Jesus. Amen.
John 13:21-35 NIRV
21 After he had said this, Jesus’ spirit was troubled. He said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. One of you is going to hand me over to my enemies.”
22 His disciples stared at one another. They had no idea which one of them he meant. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was next to him at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to that disciple. He said, “Ask Jesus which one he means.”
25 The disciple was leaning back against Jesus. He asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one I will give this piece of bread to. I will give it to him after I have dipped it in the dish.” He dipped the piece of bread. Then he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Judas was in charge of the money. So some of the disciples thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the feast. Others thought Jesus was talking about giving something to poor people. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
Peter Says He Does Not Know Jesus
31 After Judas was gone, Jesus spoke. He said, “Now the Son of Man receives glory. And he brings glory to God. 32 If the Son brings glory to God, God himself will bring glory to the Son. God will do it at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me. Just as I told the Jews, so I am telling you now. You can’t come where I am going.
34 “I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. 35 If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”
(To reinforce the imagery of bread and cup use Matthew’s Lord’s Supper text).
Matthew 26:26-30, NIRV
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to his disciples and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup. He gave thanks and handed it to them. He said, “All of you drink from it. 28 This is my blood of the covenant. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many people. 29 Here is what I tell you. From now on, I won’t drink wine with you again until the day I drink it with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Bread and cup
Use the lid of the box to create a table for the Last Supper. On the lid of the box, draw an image of bread and a cup. If you have Play-doh or modeling clay, you may create the bread and cup and place them on the lid (table).
Put either your clay molded bread and cup in the plastic egg or draw bread and cup on a piece of paper and place it into a plastic egg. OR draw the bread and cup on the side of a hardboiled egg.
The Lord’s Supper is more than just the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples. He had all his friends, the disciples, around him at this Passover meal (or as we call it, the Last Supper). Jesus told his disciples to do this act of drinking from the cup (juice) and eating the bread in remembrance of him.
This scene is about trust between good friends and family members (remember disciples Andrew and Peter were brothers). Sometimes disagreements or lack of trust happens among friends. I wonder why good friends argue sometimes. I wonder why stress makes people do things they wouldn’t normally do? I wonder how each of the disciples was thinking and feeling during the Last Supper? How did those at the meal respond when Jesus said that one of them would betray him? This is a story about relationship with Jesus. How have you celebrated this event at your church in the past?
God, we are thankful that we can always trust you. We are faithful to you and trust in you. Thank you for the bread and the juice as a reminder of how Jesus offers his love and forgiveness, even if we disagree with one another. Amen.
John 17:20-26 NIRV
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “I do not pray only for them. I pray also for everyone who will believe in me because of their message. 21 Father, I pray they will be one, just as you are in me and I am in you. I want them also to be in us. Then the world will believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you gave me. I did this so they would be one, just as we are one. 23 I will be in them, just as you are in me. This is so that they may be brought together perfectly as one. Then the world will know that you sent me. It will also show the world that you have loved those you gave me, just as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, the glory you have given me. You gave it to me because you loved me before the world was created.
25 “Father, you are holy. The world does not know you, but I know you. Those you have given me know you have sent me. 26 I have shown you to them. And I will continue to show you to them. Then the love you have for me will be in them. I myself will be in them.”
Praying hands on paper
Trace your hand on a piece of paper and write the name of someone you can pray for on each of the four fingers and thumb. Then spend time daily praying for the people you named. Place the hand tracing by your bed and pray for those five people each night before you go to sleep.
Draw a smaller version of your praying hands artwork and place it into the plastic egg. Or draw praying hands on the side of a hardboiled egg.
Jesus was very upset the night he was betrayed. When he was upset, he went into the garden and prayed. Jesus prayed to be glorified. Jesus prays for his disciples. Jesus prays for all believers. God wants us to pray too! When we are anxious, afraid, or upset, God meets us in these times through prayer.
When people are anxious, they are scared and nervous about what might happen. We all feel anxious lately as we watch the news around us. It’s good to know that Jesus felt the same way at times in his life. Jesus said, “Let what you want be done, not what I want.” Jesus was not in control, but he still trusted in God. What does it feel like to not be in control but still trust someone? I wonder what I feel like I have control over, and if I really do? I wonder what is making me feel anxious these days? I wonder the same thing about my parents or about teachers in my school.
God, we are sometimes asked to do things we don’t want to do. Thank you for removing those times in life that are hurtful and painful. Comfort us, O God, just as you comforted Jesus. Allow us to pray for others, as we show them your love. Amen.
John 19:16-30 NIRV
16 Finally, Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be nailed to a cross.
Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 He had to carry his own cross. He went out to a place called the Skull. In the Aramaic language it was called Golgotha. 18 There they nailed Jesus to the cross. Two other men were crucified with him. One was on each side of him. Jesus was in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared. It was fastened to the cross. It read,
Jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.
20 Many of the Jews read the sign. That’s because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. And the sign was written in the Aramaic, Latin and Greek languages. 21 The chief priests of the Jews argued with Pilate. They said, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews.’ Write that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “I have written what I have written.”
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes. They divided them into four parts. Each soldier got one part. All that was left was Jesus’ long, inner robe. It did not have any seams. It was made out of one piece of cloth from top to bottom.
24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s cast lots to see who will get it.”
This happened so that Scripture would come true. It says,
“They divided up my clothes among them.
They cast lots for what I was wearing.” (Psalm 22:18)
So that is what the soldiers did.
25 Jesus’ mother stood near his cross. So did his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 Jesus saw his mother there. He also saw the disciple he loved standing nearby. Jesus said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home.
28 Later, Jesus knew that everything had now been finished. He also knew that what Scripture said must come true. So he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there. So they soaked a sponge in it. They put the sponge on the stem of a hyssop plant. Then they lifted it up to Jesus’ lips. 30 After Jesus drank he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and died.
Nail and cross
Have an adult find a nail in your house. Perhaps there is one holding up a picture of your family on the wall. Take thirty seconds and look at the nail as a reminder of the pain that Jesus went through to bring us healing and display God’s love that overcomes the worst evil.
Make a cross out of pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, or toothpicks and place it in your worship box.
Draw a nail or cut one from the template below and place it in a plastic egg. Or draw a nail and a cross on the side of a hardboiled egg.
This can be a sensitive and scary concept for younger children. Even so, it’s important to know what Jesus went through to offer forgiveness for everyone and to display God’s love in the face of evil.
The American Sign Language “sign” for the name Jesus is pointing to the palm of each hand as a reminder of the nails that were placed into each of his hands. I wonder why the nail is the sign used to name Jesus. This ‘sign’ for Jesus reminds us of the nails that were used to put him on the cross. Where have you seen crosses in your life? How important is the cross when describing Jesus and what he came to do? I wonder what the Marys, including Jesus’ mother, were feeling watching Jesus on the cross? I wonder what the last thing he drank tasted like. I wonder, how do I feel when I am thirsty and what do I do about it?
God, every time I see a nail, remind me of the pain and sorrow that Jesus had to go through to save us and offer hope for eternal life in heaven. Amen.
Matthew 27:57-66 NIRV
Jesus Is Buried
57 As evening approached, a rich man came from the town of Arimathea. His name was Joseph. He had become a follower of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 He placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. Then he went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there across from the tomb.
The Guards at the Tomb
62 The next day was the day after Preparation Day. The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember something that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order to make the tomb secure until the third day. If you don’t, his disciples might come and steal the body. Then they will tell the people that Jesus has been raised from the dead. This last lie will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take some guards with you,” Pilate answered. “Go. Make the tomb as secure as you can.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure. They put a royal seal on the stone and placed some guards on duty.
Dark cloth to suggest the stillness of this day.
Play a game of “Red Light-Green Light.” This game is a favorite for children, and it is easy to play with no props needed. This game also is a great way to build executive function (decision and motor control skills) through play. Executive function develops better emotion regulation and impulse control by helping children pause, (wait), think, and then decide before reacting. Here are the rules:
- The children line up, side-by side at one end of the yard (if outside) or large room (if inside) facing the “caller.” For safety reasons, if playing inside, have children walk, crawl, or crab crawl to slow down the movements.
- The caller stands opposite the children, facing them.
- The caller shouts, “Green Light,” and turns about face (away from) from the children. When the light is green, the children move toward the caller by running, walking, or crawling—depending on the space and location of your game.
- The caller shouts, “Red Light,” and turns facing the children again. The children must stop or “freeze” immediately.
- The caller continues to shout, “Red Light” or “Green Light” until a child reaches the caller. That child could then become the next caller.
- Certain variations of the game suggest that when the caller turns around when calling “Red Light,” if a child is pointed out as moving, he or she returns to the starting line. This version can become argumentative and may distract from the object of the game, which is body control and cognitive response.
- Once a child reaches the caller, select another caller, go back to starting line, and begin the game again.
In the evening of this day, as you gather for family worship time, place a dark cloth over the entire worship space and cover it in darkness. Or cover your egg art eggs with the dark cloth. As a family, sit quietly and discuss the waiting that took place on this day in the Easter story. You are waiting in the same way for your Easter egg hunt tomorrow. While you wait, sit in silence, even if it is only a few seconds, and concentrate on the black cloth.
Draw a watch or old-fashioned clockface and place the drawing in your plastic egg; or you may place a watch in the egg. Or draw a clockface on the side of a hardboiled egg.
On Saturday, everything was so still, people could hear every little sound. There was nothing that could be done. Holy Saturday is a day of waiting.
How does it feel when you have a pet/favorite stuffed animal/friend/family nearby? Does it feel different when they are gone? When you’re hoping for something, how does it feel? I wonder what it feels like to say goodbye to someone for a short time versus saying goodbye to someone forever. I wonder when I feel sad, how long is it ok to feel sad?
God, it is hard for us to sit still and wait. On this day, we are reminded of the waiting and the hope that we have in Jesus. In our sadness and waiting, we trust in Jesus for a new day of joy and think about how his love can bring us out of these feelings of fear and sadness. We put our hope in your son, Jesus. Amen.
John 20:1-18 NIRV
The Tomb Is Empty
20 Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. It was still dark. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. 2 So she ran to Simon Peter and another disciple, the one Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 Both of them were running. The other disciple ran faster than Peter. He reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there. But he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him. He went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there. 7 He also saw the funeral cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place. It was separate from the linen. 8 The disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she cried, she bent over to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white. They were seated where Jesus’ body had been. One of them was where Jesus’ head had been laid. The other sat where his feet had been placed.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said. “I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. So she said, “Sir, did you carry him away? Tell me where you put him. Then I will go and get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him. Then she cried out in the Aramaic language, “Rabboni!” Rabboni means Teacher.
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me. I have not yet ascended to the Father. Instead, go to those who believe in me. Tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news. She said, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Empty plastic egg.
Playing Easter Joy!
Supplies: Drum, pot, pan.
Provide something for each child that makes noise. Rhythm instruments are great… but so are homemade things like two spoons to hit together and baby rattles to shake.
Say: I am going to beat my drum, and as I do, I want you to guess what I am feeling.
(Play it happily and quickly and smile)
Say: What feeling did you hear? (They will say, “happy.”)
(Play the drum slowly and frown).
Say: What feeling did you hear? (They will say, “sad.”)
Say: You are good at this. I am going to tell you the story of Easter now, and I want you to hear it in the music I make.
(Begin to hit the drum happily and continue it while you speak..
Say: Jesus was the light of the world, God’s love walking with people, teaching them, healing them… it was wonderful time! (Keep playing happily.)
Say: But then, (start playing slowly and sadly), some people did not love Jesus, and they were afraid of his great love, so they decided to crucify him. They arrested him (one beat), and they hurt him (one beat), and they made him wear a crown of thorns (one beat) and carry his cross (one beat); they hung him on the cross (crucified).
Say: Jesus died, and it was the saddest day ever. The people were so sad. (Silence.)
Say: On the third day, after Jesus had been taken from the cross and laid in the tomb, they went there to take care of his body (start beating slowly and get faster and faster as you talk). When they got there, they found out the best news ever! (Beat faster.) Jesus was alive again… he was raised, and his love was still with them!!! And that was the happiest day ever!!! (Beat harder and faster!)
Say: You know, that is our happy Easter story… but it just had one problem… I had only one drum and there is no way I could play the happiness of that first Easter by myself on that one drum. It was happy. (Start playing the drum and have others begin to make noise with their “instruments.” The noise will get louder and louder, and the children will laugh. You may have to shout):
Say: That is how happiness sounds… Easter is the happiest day ever!!! HAPPY EASTER!
Adapted with permission from Leanne-Hadley.com
Leave one empty egg for this day to represent the tomb. An empty egg on Easter morning is better than one filled with candy, better than toys! The empty egg holds the most wonderful gift ever… the empty tomb!
After Jesus died, everyone thought that God would not be with us anymore… that God’s love died with Jesus on the cross, but then God did something surprising. God raised Jesus from the dead and proved that nothing, not even death on the cross, could stop God from loving us!
What does it mean to you that God will not let death come between us? What was the last thing that surprised me? I wonder why I felt surprised and whether I liked that feeling or not? The disciples and the others shared the good news of Easter that Jesus was alive. How can you share with others that good news? Take your instruments from earlier outside (with supervision) and get even louder. Let the world around you hear the happy sounds of Easter!
God of Easter, we give you thanks for the gift of new life and of the good news of the Resurrection. Help us to experience the newness and joy that come from the Risen Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Kevin Johnson is the Director, Children’s Ministries for Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship at Discipleship Ministries. Kevin’s hero Fred Rogers suggests that we, “listen to the children, learn about them, learn from them. Think of the children first.” This quote defines Rev. Kev’s approach to ministry. Kevin, an ordained elder of the Kentucky Annual Conference, has over fifteen years of ministry experience in which he has thought of the children first. Prior to ministry, Kevin worked with children in the hospital setting and in group homes for emotionally and physically abused children.