ANNOUNCEMENT: All Faith Formation Students are asked to attend the 4:30 Mass on Wednesday, February 22 at St. Louise Church. There will be no classes on this day as the students are expected to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass.
It's hard for adults to put on a sad face for 46 days, and it would be unrealistic to ask kids to do so. But turning their hearts toward Good Friday and Easter now could spur questions and plant seeds of worship to be harvested in the spring.
Consider doing one or more of these activities to help kids turn their eyes to the cross and the empty tomb.
1. Create an Easter Advent Calendar or Chain
One way to keep kids' minds on Good Friday and Easter is to bring them back to a daily calendar or tear-away countdown chain.
Every day, perhaps beginning on Ash Wednesday (February 26), have kids open, color, or tear away the day's item, and say a prayer for someone in need or lead them in a prayer of gratitude and worship to Jesus for taking away our sins.
2. Give up Something as a Family
Nothing sobers the mind like having to go without something you'd prefer to have or enjoy. Maybe you all could abstain from movies or desserts or social media for a time. The purpose of fasting (whether it's a fast from food or something else) is to focus the mind on God.
Every impulse to go enjoy that thing is a reminder to pray instead. Jesus fasted 40 days before His temptation in the wilderness, and the lead-up to Good Friday and Easter is a good time to find a way to be reminded to think about His sacrifice and victory.
3. Read Easter Books or Watch Easter Videos
Go to the library or bookstore and find several Easter storybooks. Read them every evening as Easter approaches.
Also, a simple Google search will send you to hundreds of free or for-pay videos to watch and discuss. Watch one every day in the lead-up to Easter.
4. Make Empty Tomb Crafts
A search on Pinterest will give you scores of ideas for simple crafts you can make with your kids that tie into the week of the crucifixion and resurrection.
5. Burn Sin Cards
Have kids write some sin or thing they're sorry they did on an index card. Talk to them about how we all do things that make God sad. It is for these things that Jesus had to die on the cross .
But on the cross, Jesus took them all away. Then start a controlled fire and have them toss the card into the fire, where it will be burned up.
Explain that what Jesus did on the cross is what we think about on Good Friday, and the good feeling we have when we know our sins are burned away is the feeling we celebrate on Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.
6. Bury the Halleluiah
In some Christian traditions, people don't say the word Halleluiah (which is a happy word to praise God) until the day of Easter. The idea is to bottle up all our exuberance and then let it out on Easter Sunday morning in an eruption of praise.
A way to come at this with kids is to have them color a sheet with the word Halleluiah on it (or maybe create a collage with all kinds of happy praises to God) and then take the sheet out somewhere and bury it.
Mark the spot, and on Easter morning, when we celebrate Jesus rising from the grave, dig it up and shout it together.