Palm Sunday and Good Friday are coming up fast. If you and your family regularly observe these important Christian holidays, you won’t want to miss them– at home.
Many pause to reflect upon these holidays (marking the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem and the day he was crucified) within the church setting only. On Palm Sunday, many parishioners will wave palm fronds and sing songs of praise and adoration. On Good Friday, many will gather for candle-lit services– to mourn.
However, when we are unable to attend special services, these days can roll by unnoticed and even ignored. My grandmother said that the test of our faith happened at home, not in the pew. Therefore, she would always plan ahead to carve out time to teach us around the table. And although my siblings and I were more enthused with the treats she brought along, her words found their place in our hearts.
Try a few of the following home-celebration tips:
- Purchase fern fronds from the floral section of your favorite grocer. Read John 12:12-19 aloud (the triumphal entry) then lead your grandchildren in a parade around the house. If weather permits, go to the backyard. Let one of them portray the part of Jesus.
- Take your grandkids to a petting farm and introduce them to a donkey. Remind them that Jesus rode on a donkey as he entered the city.
- Show them pictures of Jerusalem from the internet. Talk with them about the people there and explain that Jesus was a Jewish man who loved to visit the city. Just as many Jews do today.
- Print coloring pages of the triumphal entry from the internet or purchase a coloring book from a Chrisitan bookstore. Have your grands color the pages then glue each one to a sheet of colored construction paper. Keep these for an activity on Easter Sunday.
- Introduce your grands to parsley– little palm branches. They can dip them into salted water and give them a bite.
From Happy to Sad
Depending on their ages and understanding, you may wish to explain to your grandchildren the events occurring between the two holidays. Otherwise, pick up with Good Friday.
- Hold three nails in your hand and tell the story of the crucifixion. For each nail, give a reason why Jesus died. 1) He was obeying God 2) He wanted to make a way for people to go to heaven 3) The people around him did not understand what he was doing.
- Help your grandchildren make a “cross” from pretzel rods and shoestring licorice. Hold two pretzel rods in the form of a cross and wrap them together with a string of licorice. Tuck in the ends. If you like, drape a piece of pulled taffy over it for a decorative sash.
- Wrap a superhero in a white cloth and hide him away. Let your grands hunt for him Easter morning.
- Build a mini rock “tomb” out in the backyard. Lay a small figurine inside and roll a large rock over the entrance.
- Print age appropriate coloring pages of the crucifixion from the internet. After your grandkids color them, glue them to construction paper, as on Palm Sunday, and put the pages away until Easter. Then bring them out and have your grands take the stage to tell the entire story.
In conclusion, the story of Palm Sunday and Good Friday are difficult for our youngest learners. But if we take it slow and build year by year, they will add to their understanding– and their love for Jesus.