While many families celebrate Advent in the home, it may be harder to observe Holy Week at home. After all, it's much easier to talk with our children about the baby in the manger than it is to discuss the Jesus' death and the events leading up to it. But just as the observance of Advent helps us to prepare for the celebration of Christmas, observing Holy Week helps prepare us for the joyous celebration of Easter. Here are some ideas to help families journey toward Easter together.
Consider having simpler meals than usual. Fasting, one of the most ancient of spiritual disciplines, is not appropriate for everyone, certainly not for young children. But all of us can simplify our meals in order to remind ourselves of the solemnity of the week leading up to Good Friday. Simply eliminating desserts is an easy way to do this. Talk to your children about how our giving up something we enjoy can remind us of Jesus' giving up his life for us.
Read together about the events of the last weeks of Jesus' life in your Bible. Children who are old enough and enjoy reading can read some of the passages to the family. Easter Eggs with a Difference (from the Pockets devotional guide) provides one way to read many of the pertinent passages with your family and talk about them.
Attend the week's special services at your church. Most churches will have special services during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday. While it may be tempting to exclude our children from these solemn and sad observances, these are an important part of understanding and experiencing the joy of Easter morning. Give your children opportunities after the service to talk about what happened and their feelings. Talk about your own feelings as well.
Add the events of Holy Week to your family prayers (i.e. "God, we remember today how Jesus served his friends by washing their feet. Help us to serve others, too.").
And when Easter arrives, celebrate at home (as well as at church) in a big way. Make "Christ is risen!" banners to hang around the house. Have a special food. If fresh flowers are available, bring some in to decorate the spaces where your family gathers. Teach your children the traditional Easter greeting: "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" and the response: "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!"