The season of Lent is a season of intentionality. Throughout Lent, many people choose to fast from something or add in a new spiritual discipline. These fasts and disciplines are opportunities to step back and reflect on our lives and our journeys with God and to make changes or new choices. Lent is a season for re-evaluating and renewing, for dying and rising, for giving up and gaining.
Holy Week is the culmination of Lent. Each day of Holy Week is an invitation for reflection and prayer. Holy Week slows Lent down to a snail’s pace and invites us to taste, to see, to touch, and to experience every moment of Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Lent is my favorite season of the church year, and part of my lenten discipline every year is to reflect on how I might invite my kids to think about their own journeys with God. I invite them to ask questions, to engage with Scripture, and to challenge themselves – not in a forced kind of way, but in a way that is meaningful to them.
This year, I decided to write four devotionals – beginning with Palm Sunday – we can use as a family through the Holy Week journey. These devotionals can be done as object lessons, but they do not have to be. These lessons are available to you to use however you deem most helpful – as a personal exercise, as something you invite your kids to participate in, as take-home opportunities for the kids in your congregation, or even as children’s sermons.
If you decide to use these, I’d love to hear about your experience with them.
Object lesson: a palm cross
Scripture: Mark 11:1-11
Devotional: When Jesus came into Jerusalem, the crowds were shouting at him, “Hosanna! Save us!” They took whatever they could find – their cloaks and palm branches – and put them down on the ground for Jesus to travel on. They believed Jesus was about to free them from their struggles, and so they praised him and called out to him. We can give our praise to Jesus, too, and we can also give to him our troubles.
What are some ways we can give praise to Jesus?
What troubles might we bring to Jesus?
Prayer: Dear God, we give you our praise and our thanks. Help us in all of our troubles. Hosanna! Save us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Object lesson: washcloth & basin/bowl of water
Scripture: John 13:1-17, 33-35
If you would like, take a small bowl or basin, fill it with water, and wash your child’s/children’s feet.
Devotional: One evening, Jesus took a basin filled with water, and a towel. He said he was going to wash his disciples’ feet. If I said I was going to wash your feet, how would that make you feel? The disciples were surprised – maybe even a little upset – that Jesus was going to wash their feet. He was their teacher, and teachers did not do things like that. Feet can be smelly and dirty. Why would Jesus want to wash them?
As Jesus washed their feet, he told them that he loved them. He came to teach them about loving and serving. What better way to do that than to love and serve them? On Maundy Thursday, we remember that night when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet because he loved them. And we remember that Jesus asks each of us to love and serve others, too.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your love. Help us to love and serve others, just like Jesus did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Object lesson: little wooden cross
Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46
Devotional: Before Jesus died on the cross, he knew what was going to happen. He decided to go into a garden to pray, and he asked his disciples to stay awake with him. Jesus prayed and committed himself to doing what he needed to do. But, while Jesus was praying, his disciples fell asleep! Jesus had only asked them to stay awake with him, and they couldn’t do it.
Are there things you know you need to do, but you still have a hard time doing them? Jesus did everything he came to do. We are like the disciples sometimes, and we have a hard time doing what Jesus asks us to do. It’s important for us to take the time and make the space to listen to God. Jesus took time to pray and listen – a wonderful lesson for us!
Prayer: Dear God, help us to listen for your voice. We want to follow you and walk in your ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Object lesson: black paper and white crayons or colorful chalk
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2
Devotional: The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened on the day between Good Friday and Easter. It is a day of silence, and a day of prayer. On the very first Holy Saturday, the disciples did not know Jesus would be raised from the dead. How do you think they might have felt?
Let’s take a few minutes to be silent, and to draw what comes into our minds and our hearts as we think about that first Holy Saturday. (Take some time to share your drawings afterwards.)
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for silence. In the silence, we wait for you. On this day between death and resurrection, we listen and we wait. In Jesus’ name, Amen.