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When I was young, I went to a Lutheran school. The Thursday and Friday before Easter, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, were both celebrated and I enjoyed them thoroughly. For years I attended a non-denominational church and, while we always celebrated Easter, that was the primary focus. Now I am seeing more non-traditional churches bringing back many of the old traditions such as Good Friday services and I think that’s great. It’s a nice way for Sandwich Generation grandparents to help our grandkids learn more about the Bible and about what Jesus went through for us. Much like we can use Advent activities to prepare our hearts for Christmas, we can use projects during Lent including such things as Seders and Good Friday activities to prepare our hearts for Easter. Even if your church does not offer Good Friday services, or if you feel your grandkids are too young to attend one, there are interesting ways you can make Good Friday something full of meaning for your grandkids and yourselves:
1. Look for another church in your area that is offering Good Friday services. When I was younger, I loved my church but it didn’t offer Christmas Eve services. So every year I would attend a near-by church of a different denomination for their Christmas Eve service. It had a beautiful depth and richness to it that I loved. Even though I didn’t know anyone there, I knew we were all brothers and sisters in Christ and was always blessed by going.
2. Read the story of Good Friday from a child’s storybook or Bible.
3. Use Resurrection Easter Eggs to again recount the story of Easter but don’t use the last egg right away – save it for Easter morning. Talk about how the disciples and Jesus’ other friends must have been feeling during and after the crucifixion.
4. Sing songs and hymns specifically written for Good Friday. This is a wonderful opportunity to use music to teach them spiritual truths and to explore some of the lesser known hymns that are so beautiful and full of meaning. I still love to sing many of the songs I learned when I was attending that Lutheran school, and it’s been over forty years! Music definitely impacts our brains in a special way. I’ve listed some of my favorites. You can click on the links to open a site with the lyrics, some of which will open playing the hymn tune. If you'd like to order mp3 downloads or CDs of these, you'll find easy-to-use links to Amazon below:
- Alas and Did My Savior Bleed
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- The Old Rugged Cross
- There is a Green Hill
5. Have them make a storybook of their own about Good Friday, or about all of Easter week, from Palm Sunday, through Maundy Thursday, and ending with Good Friday. If you will also see them on Easter, you could have them finish the book then. If not, perhaps they could finish the end of the book, but not attach it until Easter.
6. Play Christian Praise & Worship music, Easter hymns, and other Easter music that is appropriate for Good Friday while they are working. I love to use iTunes playlists and I have made playlists for my grandkids and myself for different holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. I will be adding a Good Friday playlist and including such songs as:
- The Wonderful Cross by Chris Tomlin
- Here is Love by Matt Redman
- There is a Fountain by Selah
- Carry My Cross by Third Day
- Nothing But the Blood by Matt Redman
- Mighty is the Power of the Cross by Chris Tomlin
- Thank You for the Cross by Aaron Spiro
- The Old Rugged Cross by Chris Rice
- Doxology by David Crowder Band
- Come Thou Fount by David Crowder Band
- If you want a full album, I found The Wonderful Cross by a mix of artists including the Newsboys, Chris Tomlin, and Matt Redman. The songs include: You are my King, How Great is Our God, The Wonderful Cross, Majesty, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, Marvelous Light, Beautiful One, In Christ Alone, Once Again, Mighty is the Power of the Cross, Beautiful Savior, Thank You for the Blood, and Jesus, You are Worthy, . It appears Amazon only carries this as a CD and it takes a couple of weeks to arrive. iTunes store has it available as an immediate download from them for $9.99. Another option is that if you already own most or all of these songs (which I do), you could make your own playlist with them. It’s a great collection of songs! (I've also listed most of these songs below in the link to Amazon to make it easy for you to buy them and download them right into your computer. 🙂 )
7. Make or read a story about the “Stations of the Cross.” There are several versions of this online including both Catholic and Protestant versions. A Child Walks With Jesus: A Lenten Pilgrimage is an online book for children. Carol L. Douglas combines black and white drawings with Bible verses and brief devotional thoughts to provide a wonderful devotional resource. One caution – A couple of the pictures might be too graphic for very young ones.
Whatever you decide to do to help your grandkids prepare for Easter, know that you are adding to their spiritual heritage in a very special and precious way. What a joy for all of us Sandwich Generation grandparents to help build into our grandkids a love and appreciation for the wondrous sacrifice our precious Savior made for us.