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I wrote this as a booklet for a Family Faith event at my last congregation. It was (obviously) written for families with children, but could easily be adapted to be used with any age or even as personal devotions. I share it hoping it can find some more mileage after a few years in the garage. Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Week!
From the Gray,
Family Devotions For
The Three Days of Easter
These devotions are meant to encourage family conversation about some themes of Holy Week and are designed to be used by families with children of elementary age or older.
- What are the Three Days? The Three Days, or Triduum (TRIJ-oo-uhm), refers to the time between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. It was on these days that Jesus was betrayed, tried, crucified, and resurrected in glory. We continue to remember and relive these events as a reminder of God's amazing gift of love for us.
- Isn't that four days? To people today, yes, but in Jesus' time, Jewish people said a day started at sundown, not midnight. That means that Friday started at sundown on Thursday and the Last Supper was on Friday in the minds of the early church. Hence, the three days are Friday (including Thursday night), Saturday, and Sunday.
Maundy Thursday: We Need Food to Live
- Take turns describing your idea of a perfect meal. What would you eat? Who would you invite? Where would you eat?
- Read Luke 22:7-30.
- Jesus and his disciples are eating the Passover meal of lamb, matzoh bread, and wine right before he died. Jesus takes the bread and wine and calls them his body and blood. (This is why we have communion in church!) By doing this, Jesus tells us that he is like food: we need him to survive. And because Jesus died for us, we will eat at the great feast in heaven, too, which will have the best food ever.
- Fun note: It's true that you are what you eat. When we take communion or pray or help others or tell people we love them, we become more like Jesus and God's love spreads in the world.
- Pray: Jesus, thank you for giving us food to make us strong, especially...(name some favorite foods). We know we need you like we need food and we know you'll always love us. Help us be more like you and to feed other people who are hungry, too. Amen.
Good Friday: Don't Be Afraid
- Take turns describing a time that you felt scared. What happened? Why were you scared? How did you get over your fear?
- Read John 20:19-23.
- Today is the day we remember that Jesus died on the cross for us. When Jesus died, his friends, the disciples, were very scared because Jesus was gone and because they thought some people might hurt them, too. After Jesus rose from the dead, he came to them and told them that death would never really win again. Because God has given us the Holy Spirit in baptism, we don't have to be afraid. God loves us and will always watch over us.
- Fun note: In the Bible, angels greet people by saying, “Don't be afraid.” God is with us; we don't need to fear anything.
- Pray: Jesus, sometimes we get scared like your disciples were. Help us to trust you and know that we don't need to be afraid because you will always be with us. Thank you for loving us so much that you died on the cross. Amen.
Holy Saturday: Love That Never Ends
- Take turns describing a time you did something bad. What did you do? Did you hurt someone's feelings? Were you punished? How did you feel?
- Read Romans 8:31-39.
- At the Easter Vigil on this night, we read eight stories that talk about how God loves us no matter what and how God will never, ever give up on helping us see how much he loves us. Sometimes we do bad things or make other people sad, but God will always forgive us and Jesus proves that there is nothing we can ever, ever do that will make God love us less. God will always chase after us and bring us home.
- Take time to tell each other why you love each other in your family.
- Pray: Jesus, thank you that you will always love us no matter what. Thank you for all the people we love and for all the people who love us. Thank you for all the ways you care for us. You are awesome! Amen.
“Since Love is lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?” -"How Can I Keep from Singing" (Traditional Hymn)