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Alleluia!

Honor Jesus' life, teachings, and miracles with these 11 ideas especially
for Easter.

Kids love Easter! And we love Easter because we feel especially connected to our Savior during this holy time. We're reminded of Jesus' suffering, sacrifice, and ultimate triumph. We celebrate because Jesus brought hope into a hopeless world.

Help kids learn more about Jesus with the great ideas included in this special Easter section. Focus on celebrating Jesus' life, his teachings, his miracles, and his resurrection. You'll find crafts, activities, bulletin board ideas, snacks, and gifts-each designed with Jesus in mind.

HOLY WEEK DEVOTIONS

A Letter to Parents
These devotions are designed to use with your Holy Week centerpiece to help kids understand the importance of Easter and Holy Week. Devotions are included for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday. Each day includes Scripture, prayer, a devotion, and an activity.

HOLY WEEK DEVOTIONS
Theme: Celebrating Holy Week
Age Level: All ages
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus time to prepare booklets
Activity Time: 30 minutes, plus devotional time at home
Materials: For each family, you'll need one 6-inch clay pot, a floral foam piece to insert inside the pot, three white 10-inch taper candles, one purple 10-inch taper candle, craft moss, and one booklet with the complete devotions included. You'll also need ribbon, tempera paint, paintbrushes, markers, scissors, glue guns, glue sticks, and craft sticks.
Help parents disciple their children and focus on Jesus during Holy Week with these take-home family devotions.

Kick off the Holy Week devotions with an hour-long family ministry event. Give each family a clay pot, foam, moss, and candles. The clay pot will act as a centerpiece for each family's devotions during Holy Week, similar to an Advent wreath during Christmas. Each family will also receive a devotion book before departing.

Have families work together to shape the foam to fit inside their pot. Then an adult can position the candles in the foam with a firm twist and a push. Cover the foam with moss.

Once the candles and moss are in place, have families decorate their pots. When the centerpieces are completed, explain the Holy Week devotions and hand out preprinted booklets with the following devotions.

PALM SUNDAY
Scripture: Luke 19:28-48
Materials: Smooth stones, matches, and bright markers.

Light the three white candles in your Holy Week centerpiece.

Read aloud the Scripture. Say, "The Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday because people waved palms and laid them in Jesus' path as he entered Jerusalem. But some people were unhappy about everyone's excitement at his arrival."

Ask, "Have you ever been excited about something when other people weren't? How did it feel? Why did some people want Jesus to quiet the cheering crowd? How would you show your excitement if you knew Jesus was coming?"

Make a bed of praises for the Holy Week centerpiece. Decorate the smooth rocks with symbols and words of praise. Place the rocks around the base of the candles.
Say, "We're on a journey this Holy Week. All the white candles in our centerpiece are lit because Jesus' ministry shone all over Israel for three years. But during our journey this week, Jesus' earthly life will be extinguished. Tonight we extinguish one candle as we remember Jesus' grand entrance into Jerusalem as the promised King and how that same day a group of Jewish leaders decided to have Jesus killed."

Blow out one candle, and close in prayer by praising God for all he's done for us.

MAUNDY THURSDAY
Scripture: Luke 22:7-62
Materials: Matches and a Bible.
Light two white candles in your Holy Week centerpiece.

Say, "The Thursday before Easter is called Maundy Thursday. The word 'Maundy' comes from a Latin word that means 'commandment.' Jesus commanded his disciples and all of us to remember him during the Lord's Supper.

"Also on Maundy Thursday, Jesus washed his disciples' feet, celebrated Passover, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed by Judas, was denied by Peter, and was taken before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, for trial. That was a lot for just one day!"
Say, "As we read today's Scripture, notice each thing Jesus did or endured that might've been difficult."

Read aloud the Scripture. Ask, "What was the most difficult thing Jesus did? What would've been most difficult for you to do or to endure? Why? Why do you think Jesus endured all those things when he didn't have to? What is the most difficult thing you've ever done? Why did you do it? Why was it difficult? Do you ask God for help during difficult times? Why or why not?"

Say, "We extinguished one candle as we remembered Jesus' grand entrance into Jerusalem and how that day a group of Jewish leaders determined to have him killed. We'll extinguish a second candle because we've learned that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and arrested by the people who wanted to kill him."

Blow out one candle and close in prayer by thanking Jesus for loving us so much that he endured difficult things for our sake.

GOOD FRIDAY
Scripture: Luke 22:66- 23:56
Materials: Pens, pencils, slips of paper, matches, plastic eggs, and a Bible.
Light one white candle in your Holy Week centerpiece.

Read aloud the Scripture. Say, "Today is Good Friday. The name doesn't seem to fit when we think about the Scripture, does it? How can this day be called 'good' when we think about what happened to Jesus? But it is good because when Jesus died for us, he saved us from our sins and allowed us to have a close relationship with God. Still, this good outcome had a terrible price -- Jesus' life.

"Jesus died and was laid to rest in a tomb. The world went dark, the earth shook, and the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom. Jesus was the final sacrifice for our sins."

Have your family write sins they've committed on the slips of paper. Then place the slips inside the plastic eggs. Lay the eggs around the base of the Holy Week centerpiece.

Say, "We extinguished one candle as we remembered Jesus' grand entrance into Jerusalem and how that day a group of Jewish leaders determined to have him killed. We extinguished a second candle because we learned how Jesus was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and arrested by the people who wanted to kill him. Today we extinguish the third candle as Jesus' time on earth ends and he was laid in a tomb. Jesus died for our sins. Today we can feel how dark and sad this day must've been for Jesus' disciples and followers."

Blow out the candle and close in prayer by acknowledging Good Friday as a sad day, but also one filled with the anticipation of Jesus' resurrection. Thank God for the hope his son Jesus brought into the world.

RESURRECTION SUNDAY
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Materials: The plastic eggs with sins, matches, a fireproof receptacle such as a large glass jar, and a Bible.

Light the purple candle in your Holy Week centerpiece.

Read aloud the Scripture.

Use the following questions to spark discussion among family members, and then create your own "I wonder" questions.

• "I wonder how the women felt on their way to Jesus' tomb where he had been dead for a few days."
• "I wonder what the angels thought when they spoke to the women."
• "I wonder how Peter felt when he found only strips of linen in the tomb."
• "I wonder how his disciples felt when Jesus visited them in the days after he'd risen."

Say, "Today is Easter, Resurrection Sunday, the most glorious and amazing day of the whole year! On Good Friday Jesus died and was laid in a tomb. On Resurrection Sunday he was raised from the dead. Jesus died for our sins, and we buried our sins with him on Friday. He rose on Easter to forgive our sins and to give us new life. Today we celebrate our new life in Jesus by destroying our sins."
Remove the slips of paper from the eggs and place them in the fireproof receptacle. Have an adult light a match and burn the strips inside the fireproof receptacle. When the strips are completely burnt, take the ashes outside and scatter them.

Ask, "How did it feel to see our sins on the paper burning? How do you feel now that your sins are gone forever? How does Jesus want us to use the life he's given us? How can we honor Jesus for his sacrifice?"

Say, "Today we light the single purple candle as a symbol of Jesus' triumph over death. We'll leave the candle burning because Jesus has risen. Our Savior has given us eternal life."

Close in prayer by thanking Jesus for his sacrifice and for forgiving our sins. Praise God for his son and his amazing grace.
Amanda Garrett
Artesia, California

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