In the month leading up to Christmas, with the help of an Advent calendar, we like to take our boys through what the Bible has to say about the first Christmas. Every year we learn a little more about this season and it helps us to keep our focus during an otherwise highly distracting month. After our first son's first Christmas it struck me, never having been in a church that particularly observed Lent, that it would be good to do a similar thing leading up to Easter.
which was a rather abrupt and unsatisfactory finish to what should have been a glorious moment around the Easter Sunday breakfast table! A friend who did this along with us, whose children are a little older, also commented that at least one of her daughters found the readings, day after day, too intense given the challenging content.
And each year I have felt that we really shouldn't stop on Easter Sunday with the resurrection. A few important things happen after Jesus' resurrection that ought to be mentioned like Jesus' physical proof of his resurrection, how Jesus shows that the Old Testament pointed to himself, how he planned to send the Spirit when he returned to the Father's side and how we all have a job to do in light of all of this.
So this year I have put some thought into it. Here is the plan...
1. The triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1-11)
2. Jesus anointed at Bethany and Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Mark 14:1-11)
3. Jesus washes the disciples feet (John 13:1-17)
4. The last supper (Matthew 26:20-30)
5. Jesus predicts Peter’s denial (Mark 14:27-31)
6. Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)
7. Jesus arrested (Mark 14:43-52)
8. Before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:53-65)
9. Peter disowns Jesus (Mark 14:66-72)
10. Jesus before Pilate (Mark 15:1-15)
11. The soldiers mock Jesus (Mark 15:16-20)
12. The crucifixion (Luke 23:26-43)
13. Jesus dies (Luke 23:44-49)
14. Jesus placed in the tomb (Matthew 27:57-60)
15. The women go to anoint the body (Mark 16:1-3)
16. The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10)
17. The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
18. Appearing to the disciples (Luke 24:36-39)
19. Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish (John 21:1-14)
20. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)
21. The Ascension (Luke 24:50-53)
The key features of this plan are as follows...
1. I will not be a slave to a dozen eggs! I am sure the boys will oblige in having a few more Kinder Surprises to add to our empty egg collection.
2. The plan spans the four gospels and features each of the key events leading up to and covering the Easter story. Where there was a choice of renderings I selected the one I thought was the most concrete and readily accessible to children. Ultimately it will be good to be reading through each of the gospel accounts of Easter in their entirety but for now, this gets the full story across.
3. We are planning to start soon so that we don't need to do an Easter reading EVERY day for the next twenty one days, to assist those (praise God) whose tender hearts find the content overwhelming. As I write this there are six weeks until Easter so that gives plenty of time to get through all the readings comfortably.
4. The aim is to reach number sixteen on Easter Sunday - and then cover the last five over the following week or two.
5. We probably won't do all twenty one readings straight from an adult Bible. (The CEV Bible, by the way, is a very user friendly adult version to use with children - written in very plain English.) To keep their interest up we will probably mix and match -a bit of adult Bible, a few readings from The Jesus Story Book (which covers the Easter story really well) and from other children's Bibles knocking about the place, perhaps listening to an audio version here and there. We will mix and match as much as is needed to hold the children's interest.
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross edited by Nancy Guthrie. There are twenty five readings - which is about four readings each week in order to reach the end by Easter Sunday. I am really looking forward to carving out a few quiet moments with a cup of tea a three or four times a week to work my way through this anthology. I think I will begin this project tomorrow!