Here are a few Holy Week ideas I’ve used with children or intergenerational groups over the years.
(Maundy comes from the Latin, “dies mandatum” which means “the day of the new commandment”. This Friday is considered “good” because not even death can overwhelm God’s love and grace.)
1. Make a copy of the litany page for each reading participant.
2. Prepare for this service with some quiet worship music and silence.
3. Light all the Lent candles and the Christ candle.
4. Add a metal bowl in which you can burn up your confession slips, or use a small paper shredder.
5. Write personal confessions on slips of paper before beginning the litany. (Keep them for the middle of the litany.)
6. Have family or household members take turns snuffing out the candles.
7. Have family or household members take turns reading the “One” parts.
Maundy Thursday or Good Friday Litany
One: When we hate or are unkind to each other, the world becomes a darker place. (Snuff out candle #1)
All: Jesus taught us to love each other.
One: When we are grabby and want everything for ourselves, the world becomes a darker place. (Snuff out candle #2)
All: Jesus taught us to share with others.
One: When we are afraid, the world seems dark and frightening. (Snuff out candle #3)
All: Jesus’ love is stronger than our fears. He is the light of the world.
One: When we are jealous of others, and are angry because they have things we want for ourselves, the world becomes a darker place. (Snuff out candle #4)
All: Jesus taught us to be content with what we have and to look out for the good of others.
One: When we don’t tell the truth, the world becomes a darker place. (Snuff out candle #5)
All: Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” He expects us to be honest.
One: Because of people’s hatred, greed, selfishness, jealousy and dishonesty, Jesus died on the cross. (Snuff out candle #6)
All: To Jesus’ friends the world seemed like a very dark place.
One: Before he died, Jesus said, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Sing “Were you there” while you burn up your confessions, lighting them with the still-burning Christ candle, or destroy them in a paper shredder.
Option: stop here on Thursday or Friday and continue on Easter morning.
One: Jesus did not stay dead. God’s love is stronger than all our sins, and on that first Easter, God raised Jesus from the dead. Because Jesus loved people enough to suffer and die and still forgive, we, too, can be forgiven. Jesus’ death and resurrection can free us from the bad things we have done. It can give us the strength to forgive others when they hurt us. Christ’s love can be reflected in and shine through us.
One: When we are kind and loving to each other, the world becomes a brighter place. (Relight candle #1)
All: Jesus’ love shines through our loving deeds and words.
One: When we share and find joy in sharing with those who have less, the world becomes a brighter place. (Relight candle #2)
All: Jesus wants us to share.
One: When we trust in God’s care for us and are freed from fear, the world becomes a brighter place. (Relight candle #3)
All: Jesus wants us to trust him with our fears and worries so we can live freely.
One: When we are content with what we have, and are happy for others when they get something special, the world becomes a brighter place. (Relight candle #4)
All: Jesus wants us to trust him to give us what we need.
One: When we are honest with ourselves and others, the world becomes a safer and brighter place. (Relight candle #5)
All: Jesus said, “I am the truth.” He helps us be truthful, too.
One: When we are loving, unselfish, trusting, content and honest, Jesus lives in our lives and the world becomes a brighter place. (Relight candle #6)
All: Because Jesus lives and wants to live in our hearts, God’s light and love shine through God’s people and brighten up the world. Thanks be to God.
(You may want to add your own spontaneous prayers here.)
Sing or play a favourite Easter carol before you disperse.
Easter Sunday Prayer of Thanks
Dear God and Father of our living Lord, we praise you for the power of your forgiving, life- giving love!
We thank you for raising Jesus from the dead.
We thank you for the wonderful gifts of forgiveness and salvation that we can enjoy because of Jesus.
We thank you for the Bible, which helps us see how God’s love transformed the lives of Jesus’ first followers.
We thank you for Christians through the ages who have loved and followed you as they were transformed by your love.
We thank you for inviting us to follow you, too, and for your willingness to transform our lives and faith communities.
We love you and want to follow your son, Jesus.
Thank you for continuing to live in us and around us.
Thank you that your love can and does lead through suffering to joy. Thank you that your love is stronger than sin and death. Amen.