Focal verse

“But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more” (Psalm 71:14).

Reflection

Our children currently love the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems. My son refers to them as “the funny books.” In a day we can read the same book too many times to count. Each time we read it, the kids laugh. Various ages and stages have brought different favorite books into our home: Goodnight Moon at bedtime, Little Blue Truck throughout the day and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt whenever we hike. My children delight in hearing a favorite story over and over. The words are as familiar as a refrain, but every time I read the story they react as if they’re hearing the words for the first time.

Spring feels like this too. Every year we delight in crocuses popping through the grass and daffodils dotting yards. When the birds return, we sing along with them and cheer. We marvel at nests filled with eggs. We lift our faces to the sun and warmth. We experience the hope of spring again as if we’re encountering it for the first time.

Can it be this way for Easter, too? Every Holy Week and Easter, we hear the same stories. We relive the last days of Jesus’ life—the washing of feet, the final meal with the disciples, the betrayal, the pain, the violence and death, and finally the resurrection. Can we still find ways to be surprised and delighted?

As parents, we can help ourselves and our children see Jesus’ story anew when we make bread together or wash one another’s feet. We can read to our children from their story Bibles. We can take a walk, searching for signs of hope. We can talk with them about how it feels to be betrayed by a friend or to reflect on Jesus’ death. We can color and create “alleluias” for our homes.

This Holy Week and Easter season, read the stories, go outside and search for signs of new life, and revel in God’s surprise of the empty tomb. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are our good-news story — our favorite story — to share with each other and the world.

Practices

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood as a family, looking for signs of spring. Encourage your kids to move slowly and prayerfully. As you witness green growth, flowers, birds’ nests and other markers of God’s presence, give thanks to God.
  • Read Little Mole Finds Hope by Glenys Nellist (Beaming Books, 2020) and remember, along with Little Mole, the Easter promise that hope can be found in even the darkest places.
  • Plan an Easter egg hunt with Bible verses from the stories of Holy Week hidden inside plastic eggs. As your kids open the eggs, read the verses together.

Prayers

We pray for health care workers, clinics and volunteers administering vaccines.
We pray for those preparing for baptism.
We pray for youth navigating difficult relationships.
We give thanks for Jesus’ life and resurrection, which give us hope.
We give thanks for sunshine, warm winds and blue skies.
We give thanks for the work of pastors, musicians and church leaders preparing for the great Three Days.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Amen.

Service opportunity

Make small Easter baskets filled with treats (handwritten notes, Scripture verses, candy, baked goods) and surprise neighbors with them. Write encouraging notes to leave on random cars or give to service workers or letter carriers.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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