On Sunday I told my Primary class (5 & 6 year-olds) that I would see them “in two weeks. On Palm Sunday. If you don’t know what that is, go home and ask your parents. And if they don’t know…” Then a precocious little one piped up with “Look it up on the computer.”
This recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune focuses on Mormons engaging with the events of Holy Week. As a convert to the church many years ago, I was startled to discover, that Holy Week wasn’t the big deal it was in my previous tradition.
I always liked the Palm Sundays of my youth, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, waving of palm fronds and shouting of Hosanna – a break from our typically staid Methodist manners. I liked the solemnity of Maundy Thursday commemorating the Last Supper and the events of Gethsemane. Good Friday always struck me as a very poorly named day and gave me as a child my first exposures to the concept of grief.
I loved the smell of vinegar, the little pebbles of dye and the attention of my parents as we dyed eggs.
And then there was Easter morning! My sisters and I would get especially spruced up for church on Sunday (New dress. New shoes. That seemed to tie in to a vague concept of new life. A fancy hat was optional, and I recall no attempts at spiritual associations with them.) We also enjoyed bright Easter baskets full of goodies. Hiding and seeking our colorful eggs only happened some years. Baskets and egg hunts confused us about the point of the day…but in such fun ways. Often I sang in the children’s choir in our cool robes (covering our new fancy duds). Sometimes there were the hallelujahs of clashing cymbals. Always there was the scent of hope created by a sanctuary filled with the smell of lilies.
Now that I’m charged with teaching young Latter-day Saint lambs, I’m trying to recall how I taught my own children the true meaning of Easter. I remember that we had a dozen plastic Easter Eggs with tiny visual aids to represent aspects of Easter. I found a link to making such a set here.
My kids and I used to love to microwave two Peeps chicks with toothpicks stuck in them. As they cook, they become big fat sweet jousters with lances . If any of you can think of a spiritual connection there, let me know. Onward Christian Soldiers?
I visited the seasonal aisle at the drug store in pursuit of other teaching aids that might be available to help teach the Primary kids. The only thing I found that wasn’t an Easter bunny, egg, chick or generic flower was a chocolate cross to eat. Theologically that confused me, and it looked like that waxy tasteless chocolate anyway.
I have read about Resurrection cookies that stay in a closed oven (ie tomb) and appear tasty and empty as sweet little tombs the next morning. Won’t work for a 45 minute Sunday School class, but fun for families?
I imagine there are lots of creative LDS parents who have other ideas/links/suggestions to share. How have all you clever and creative Primary leaders and parents handled the topic of teaching Holy Week to children in satisfying ways?