“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 NRSV
Today is Good Friday, which I will forever associate with the Good Friday Vacation Bible School at the church I previously served. Each year, children from our church family and the surrounding community gather to sing songs, bake pretzels, make crafts, and go on a journey through Holy Week. Rooms throughout the church were transformed to tell the story of Jesus’ last days. Teenagers dressed up and played the roles of Jesus, the twelve disciples, Mary Magdalene, the angel, and soldiers. Adults led singing, served snacks, and organized crafts. It was truly intergenerational.
I saw children grow into teenagers who couldn’t wait to play the part of a disciple sleeping in the garden, or to assist the young ones in forming their pretzels and gluing their tissue paper butterflies. These same teenagers had come to Good Friday VBS year after year as children. They learned the Easter story and looked forward to bringing it to life for the next generation of children. I felt like a proud mama, filled with hope. On this Good Friday, I am proud to serve a new intergenerational church. I can practically see and taste the enthusiasm just waiting to be tapped, and I look forward to the opportunity to bring Good Friday VBS to a new group of children at Naples UCC.
I yearn for our children to learn and experience the stories in the Bible, but especially the Easter Story, the foundation of our faith. I want them to know that Easter is so much more than pretty dresses, egg hunts, and bunnies. That it first begins with pain, and struggle, and the sacrifice that Jesus made on Good Friday. There had to be a Good Friday before there could be an Easter morning. I love that children feel free to ask wondering questions:
“If there was so much pain and suffering the day that Jesus died, why is it called Good Friday?”
“Why isn’t it called Bad Friday?”
“Why did Jesus have to die?”
We know Good Friday is good because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. It is good because we know that two days later, the tomb was empty and Jesus was risen. It is good because we are forgiven. It is good because, with God, there is always love and always hope.
In this time of COVID-19, today may feel like Bad Friday to you. Through our own pain and suffering, and our anxiety about when this pandemic will end, we can hold onto the promise that the good news of a bright Easter morning always follows the grief of Good Friday. May this weekend be a time to tap into our intergenerational spirit, wondering and pondering the mysteries of our faith alongside our curious children.
Director of Children’s Ministry
For people who have lost hope, we pray:
Dear Jesus, you are our hope. You came to earth for us. You lived for us. You suffered for us. You died for us.You love us. Thank you, Thank you Jesus. Amen.
Children’s Activity Suggestions
- Read together through the stories of Good Friday and Easter using an appropriate version of the Bible. After each section/story, talk about what it would have been like to be there, how people might have felt, and why Jesus did what He did in each situation. Save the story of the Resurrection for Easter morning.
- Grab a large piece (or multiple pieces) of paper and, reading through a children’s Bible, draw out the story together as a family, talking about each event as you draw it. Place the pictures somewhere they can be seen, and on Easter morning, retell the story found on your Easter mural.