Saturday, April 26, 2014

Trying to teach a Holy Week

Many years ago I read a book set in Greece and it really struck me how Easter is a huge time of celebration to them, much more than to us in America, much more important than Christmas. Which makes sense, since Christmas is about a promise - Christ being born; but Easter is about the promise fulfilled - Christ defeating death and rising again to life, so that we too can have hope of victory over death and eternal life. In Greece, everyone has a limited fast all week, with services and traditions every day, culminating on Saturday evening:
The Anastasi, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. The whole of Greece, it seems, attends church for the midnight service and the lighting of the Holy Flame. The Priest passes the Holy Flame throughout the congregation and all light a candle with cries of Christos Anesti!- Christ is Risen. Fireworks are then let off in celebration. The people take their lit candles home and make the sign of a cross with the black from the candle flame in the doorway of their homes before entering. They break their fasts after midnight, starting with Mageiritsa – a meat soup, and red-dyed eggs. Feasting continues all day Sunday. (from the Greek Reporter, full article)

We have started some of our own Easter traditions over the years to try to emphasize everything that Christ went through for us this week. Some traditions have been more successful (longer lasting) than others. The kids, of course, always insist on dying Easter eggs and doing an egg hunt, and every year I remind them that the eggs are a symbol of the tomb, being broken open to bring forth life.

One tradition we've done every year is putting up a six foot wooden cross in our yard on Friday, with a black cloth hanging on it symbolizing Christ's death, and then replacing it with a white cloth Sunday morning.

Here's some more things I tried during Holy Week this year:

Palm Sunday:  we made tissue paper "stained glass" with palm leaves (well, sort of palm leaves) and read Luke 19:28-47 about when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.

Monday:  We continued reading in Luke about Jesus teaching in the temple, and started this "wheel book" that is divided in seven sections for the seven days leading to Jesus' resurrection. (I recently discovered lap books and mini books as a great way to make home school a little more creative and hands on).

Tuesday: We made the scrolls above with verses inside from the reading in Luke today

Wednesday: Added to our wheel book about the seven days

Thursday: read the verses about the Last Supper and Jesus praying in the garden and being arrested; the girls helped me make dinner and we walked around our garden at night

Friday: read the verses about Jesus' trial and crucifixion; set up our cross outside

Saturday: dyed Easter eggs and opened the Resurrection Eggs set our church made for all the kids last year.  

Sunday: took away the black cloth from our outdoor cross and replaced with a white cloth; went to church; did egg hunt and my plan was make these empty tomb rolls with crescent rolls and marshmallows with the girls, but I came down with a cold (on Easter of all days!)

Next year I think we will study different Easter celebrations from around the world (including Greece) during our holy week.

My favorite verse from reading Luke this year was Luke 22:37:  "It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."

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