Walking through Holy Week with preschoolers

Apr 15, 2019 7:00:00 AM / by Amber Lappin

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There’s a lens we wear as caregivers of young children. The world just looks a little (or a lot) different when we see God’s design unfold from the perspective of someone who’s entrusted with such an important responsibility. Scripture takes on new meaning as we find ourselves relating to the Word through the eyes of a child. 

Holy Week is no exception. As we walk through the special days that Christians set aside for preparing our hearts to take in the wonder, which is the good news of the Resurrection. These are beautiful words of encouragement for our weary souls. 

PART ONE

Joy in Hope 

Holy week begins with Palm Sunday. It’s this day that we remember the excitement of the people who began to realize that Jesus truly is the coming King. They came out of their homes, waved palm fronds and shouted Hosanna! (Fun fact- Hosanna comes from a phrase that originally meant essentially “Save us please!” and then came to mean “We’re saved!”) The people were rejoicing, for there was hope, and hope is a pretty sturdy anchor for our souls. It keeps us from getting caught up in what’s currently going on, and from drifting off into a sea of despair. 

This is a good time for us as caregivers to take stock of the things we have to look forward to. Yes, the joy that comes from knowing that Christ will keep His promise to save us, but there are little everyday glimmers of hope that we can treasure as well. First words from a small child give us hope that she’ll soon be able to communicate with us. Slow blinking eyes mean a nap is on the horizon. A child rocking a baby doll gives us hope that they will someday be a good parent. 

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We can have joy in hope because we can focus on the fact the God promises that He has plans for His people for a future and hope. He wants good things for the children in our care as much as we do. When we focus on hope, we can look forward and laugh without fear of the future, even when we know there are tough times ahead. We can be joyful in hope, knowing that there is light just beyond the darkest of times.  

For preschoolers, the story of Palm Sunday is a perfect launchpad to talk about hope. Discuss things that the children in your care hope for (a birthday, a visit from a relative, a trip to the store) and help them understand what it means to hope for what God does. We can trust God to comfort us, to help us make good decisions, to help us be loving to others. 

PART TWO 

Patience in Affliction 

Right in the middle of Holy Week is Good Friday.  There’s long been a debate about calling the day of Christ’s flogging and crucifixion “good” at all. Truth is, it’s hard to imagine that the people who loved and followed Jesus felt any good, any hope, any joy on that dark day. Nonetheless, we know from scriptures that this was a necessary part of God’s plan for our good. The affliction part of Christ’s time on earth was relatively short- just a few days in a 30-year time period, but it doesn’t take much imagination to understand it must’ve felt long as well as torturous. The disciples had to endure not just the grief of mourning the Jesus that they loved so much, but also the horrible devastation of plans not going the direction they had thought.  

As caregivers of preschool-aged children, we can probably all identify on some level. Perhaps in smallish ways, such as bad days when we struggle with our choice to be a parent or teacher because of the chaos around us. Maybe in big ways, maybe when we discover our children have an illness or disability or another challenge that we didn’t expect. Tragedy, trauma and plain bad days are disappointing and hard to endure. 

The good news is, God warns us in the Bible to be patient in affliction. He also encourages us that we will see the fruit of our hard work if we don’t give up.  As exhausting and debilitating as hard times can be, the hope that we stored up during the good days can be what helps us to endure. It’s essential to understand that God is not gone when not right before our very eyes- and days (or weeks, years) like these are good times to gather with other Christians who can hold our hands and walk with us in times of sorrow until we reach the next season. Patience in affliction is so much easier when we work together to see the beauty on the other side of pain. 

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For preschoolers, the story of Good Friday can be very troubling. Though you should not dwell on the gore or horror of the crucifixion, it’s good for children to think about the feeling of affliction and disappointment. Spend time thinking about things they thought might happen that didn’t (cake for dinner, a canceled trip because of illness, a toy that broke). Give them a chance to discuss how they got through that time and point out how God can be helpful when we are patient and trust him.   

PART THREE 

Faithful in Prayer 

On the day of Christ’s resurrection, the people who loved Jesus were still in deep mourning. Some were gathered together, some out walking, some went to go check out his tomb. All were trying to find out what the new normal was, working out how to move forward. Finally, Christ revealed himself! He spoke to the mourning women at the tomb, John, and Peter on the road, He then appeared to a room full of disciples. Luke explains that each time, Jesus reminded the people about the scriptures that foretold that this would happen. He helped them to understand God’s plan for salvation, revealing to them the gift of the Holy Spirit as a Helper (which would fully arrive on the day of Pentecost).  In Romans 8, we learn that the Holy Spirit helps us with is prayer- our connection to God after Christ no longer physically walks the earth. 

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Connecting with God through prayer isn’t always easy, even when joyful in hope and patient in affliction. From learning about the miracle of Christ’s resurrection, His care to connect with His people, and His gift of the Spirit to help them do what’s next, caregivers can get a very powerful lesson.  

 

  • Firstly - we can take care to not rush past the fact the Jesus rose from the dead- JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD! Certainly, this is a God worthy of worship.   
  • Secondly - we see that he desperately desires to help us understand while staying connected. That’s comforting in both our relationships with Christ as well as our relationship with the children in our care. We can reach out in times of affliction, giving comfort by helping them understand, also by helping them pray- to connect to the God who is the Prince of Peace. 

For Preschoolers, the story of Christ’s resurrection can be exciting! That Jesus came back from the dead just because he loves us is a miracle indeed! When talking about this event, we can discuss that because Jesus is so powerful, and because he loves us so much, we can talk to Him whenever we want! In fact- being faithful in prayer means that we talk to Him every day, believing that He listens and wants good things for us.  That’s a reason to celebrate! 

Watch out this week for more blogs regarding Holy Week to make the best of this Season of change, resurrection & celebration. For more helpful tips when preparing for Holy Week check out these resources here, here & here!

 

Topics: Early Childhood Ministry

Amber Lappin

Written by Amber Lappin

Amber is a speaker and writer with over 25 years of experience in early childhood development and children’s ministry. She works as an associate professor at Mt. San Jacinto Community College in the child development education department, and as a grant program director for two nationally accredited preschools. Amber enjoys "small town" Southern California living with her husband of 25 years, Jason, and their three children.

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