And Psalm 27:14 is one of my favorite verses of all time, a free printable for you:
[ print up to 11×14 by clicking on the image (jpg) or print this letter-sized PDF ]
And Psalm 27:14 is one of my favorite verses of all time, a free printable for you:
Since M was gone again, I finally made our own version of the family rules I’ve seen everywhere lately.
I included things we say all the time, lyrics from songs I sing to the girls, etc. So even though we didn’t come up with them together, they have a lot of personal flavor. Both girls said they sounded great. Now to get them printed and hung, probably in a different color, even though I like this grey a lot.
In Holy Week we have a unique entry point into the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and good church services have made memorable impressions on me over the years. Certainly utilize whatever your congregation is doing and ask friends how their church is celebrating as well.
Here are a few Good Friday printables I made you may want to decorate with. If you click on them you should be able to save and print them in high resolution.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. Your church service may incorporate all of these elements but if it doesn’t, you can observe by reading the account (from Matthew 21 or Mark 11), singing an appropriate hymn such as “All Glory Laud and Honor” and waving palm branches (call around to florist wholesalers if you need to find them.) Save your palm branches for making crosses sometime during Holy Week.
The lectionary is always appropriate, and Gospel of Mark would make a good family devotion for Holy Week, reading 2 or 3 chapters a day. Also, the Lenten Lights devotional can be used for Holy Week, but you need to start the Saturday before Palm Sunday for it to line up. Families with young children might use resurrection eggs (google, there are some variations) for a nightly devotion, opening 1 or 2 each day and reading / discussing the appropriate scripture.
More protestant churches are offering stations of the cross or labyrinth prayer during Holy Week. You can also use the world-wide labyrinth locator to find one yourself. If you have school aged children, this might provide a good opportunity for quiet contemplation and prayer as you prepare for Good Friday.
Holy Week increases in intensity on Maundy Thursday. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend a service that night, you can read the story together from Luke 21:1-13, John 13:1-20, John 13:31-35 and Luke 22:14-62. You can enter the story by breaking up your reading by participating in some of the events such as washing each others feet, sharing bread and wine and going out into the darkness. Some families also use this night to have a Passover celebration. I’ve found that my Good Friday seems much more “real” after following Jesus through Maundy Thursday.
Crucifixion is not an easy topic to talk to children about, but without the cross, we don’t have the hope of Easter. Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible account would be a great start with a younger child. As your children get older, you can sing hymns like “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and read the account from one of the gospels (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19) and talk about it. What was it like for Jesus? How do you think the disciples felt? How does it make you feel? It might also be helpful to cultivate an atmosphere of quiet and darkness (close the drapes and keep lighting low) for Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
You can make an Easter garden with moss and found objects as a beautiful centerpiece, complete with a tomb to find empty Easter morning. I like this one. If you start early enough, you can also grow one with grass seed, like this blogger did.
Traditionally, Hot Cross Buns are made and consumed on Good Friday. There are other bread traditions such as Kulich which is served in Russia as part of the Easter meal, it would be fun to ask your grandparents if there are any special things they grew up making together during Holy Week and incorporating it into your Easter as well.
In the midst of family obligations and bustling activity, punctuate your Easter with joy. Borrowing from the Easter Vigil service in the Anglican tradition (an awesome liturgy, but long and often very late…) you could give each member of your family a bell and the first one to wake up after sunrise (or whatever time you deem appropriate) can run from room to room ringing it and shouting “Christ is risen!” as everyone else gets up to join them. Read a resurrection Sunday account while you eat your chocolate (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20) and sing something triumphant and appropriate together (“This Joyful Eastertide,” “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”) Since our church meets in the evening, our tradition is to share lunch with other friends who have out-of-town family, and the feasting and fellowship is a huge part of Easter for our family.
Easter is not a day, but a season of resurrection that lasts for forty days. Doing something as simple as a small dessert every night (dark chocolate squares, fruit, store-bought treats…) could help to remind children of the joy of salvation. A special “Easter only” weekly tradition particular to your family would also be fun.
Here are some free Easter printables as well.
Feel free to share your traditions for making Holy Week and Easter meaningful and memorable in your home, there’s obviously much more than I can possibly mention.
A Continuing Series on Celebrating the Church Year.
Lent is a season of repentance in preparation for Easter, which begins Ash Wednesday (February 22nd in 2012) and continues to Holy Week. It has been marked traditionally by fasting, prayer and acts of charity. In Lent, we reflect on such questions as: what routine sins are estranging me from God and other people? In what ways has my heart grown cold to the gospel? What idols of my heart are distorting my love for God?
Because the Lenten season is more somber in tone, it can be hard to know how to observe it at home with children. This post is a collection of ideas, certainly not a prescriptive list we are doing in full this year (or any year!) I’d love to hear what you’ve done in the past or plan to do in the future.
PREPARING FOR LENT
Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is the day preceding Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, people used up butter, eggs, sugar and other things they might be giving up for Lent by making pancakes. I am planning to make these gingerbread pancakes to eat as we talk about our plans for Lent over dinner.
For me, Ash Wednesday services set the tone for Lent, the liturgy is powerful. They tend to have short homilies that are child-friendly at the Episcopal and Anglican parishes we’ve visited, and we’ve always felt very welcome even with wiggly toddlers or noisy babies. Sometimes less-liturgical churches will have Ash Wednesday services without the imposition of ashes, if you like the idea but not the ashes.
DURING LENT ITSELF
Make a commitment to confess your sins together as a family. With smaller children, this would be done orally, but you could write them out if you have teens and feel that would work better.
Memorize one of the Psalms of repentance that are traditional to the season of Lent: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 or 143.
Use prayers of confession like the familiar general confession from the episcopal church or this one from St. Ambrose at home.
After confession, you can foreshadow Easter by using hopeful affirmations of assurance of pardon and union with Christ, like this one from the Syrian Orthodox tradition: “How fair and lovely is the hope which the Lord gave to the dead when he lay down like them beside them. Rise up and come forth and sing praise to Him who has raised you from destruction.”
Fast from something: dessert, TV or another distraction. Perhaps introduce a few meatless days into your meal rotation. Don’t forget that Sundays are for feasting and remembering a resurrected Christ, even during lent. Break your fast and enjoy whatever you’ve given up.
Use meditative, breath prayers like: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Read scripture! You can use the lectionary to guide scripture reading as a family. Decide how much time you can spend daily and plan accordingly (e.g. one psalm, the OT and the gospel.) If that’s too much, just read through one of the gospels together. If you aim to finish before holy week, you’d end up needing to read less than a chapter a day.
Pray throughout the day. You could make a commitment to the daily Morning, Evening and Night prayers (with the daily lectionary readings) from the Book of Common Prayer or use a resource like Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours.
Learn the verses of a hymn of confession you sing in church. “Nothing But the Blood” is particularly good for pre-readers.
Here’s a playlist on Spotify of appropriate songs for lent.
Contemplate acts of service you can do as a family or individually. Consider giving to a ministry that serves the poor by freeing up money you might have spent on something else.
Make pretzels, a traditional lenten bread and reminder to pray.
Remind yourselves of how lent is a time of growth by planting seeds for your spring garden. Starting seedlings depends on your climate, germination times, etc. But it could line up well to plant the week after Easter if you don’t live in the frigid north.
Simplify your schedule or your possessions. Clear out things you don’t need, and give them to a local thrift store.
Do a devotional together. Noel Piper’s Lenten Lights is a weekly devotional that includes a candle component, we’ve not used it but it may be a good fit if you have smaller children and don’t want to make a daily commitment. If you have teens, Henri Nouwen’s Show Me the Way is a classic. Bread and Wine is a collection of readings from great writers for Lent and Easter. City Church, Philadelphia (PCA) has a good guide with scripture readings and prayer for each day during lent.
I made a few printables, for those of you who like to rotate seasonal decor with the church calendar. (If you click on them, they will open large enough to print at 8×10.)