From the joy of Palm Sunday, to the mystery of the Last Supper, to the darkness of the Crucifixion, and finally to the wonder of Easter morning, there are all kinds of opportunities to worship, contemplate, and celebrate during the Lenten and Easter seasons.
When we have felt the weight of gloom on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we are more than ready to celebrate the greatest news the world has ever heard come Sunday morning: "Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" (1 Cor. 15:20). Here are a few ways to observe the occasion:
Butterfly release. About two weeks before Easter, purchase caterpillars from a science catalog or local natural science store. Watch them spin cocoons and change into butterflies. If the timing is right, release the butterflies on Easter Sunday. Explain that Jesus, lying in the grave, was like a caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon. Not only was he wrapped in cloth, but his body was placed in a cave with a large stone rolled in front of the entrance. But the cave couldn't hold him, just like the cocoon can't hold the caterpillar. On that first Easter morning, Jesus came out of the cave alive, just as a butterfly emerges alive from the cocoon.
If you can't find caterpillars, make symbolic caterpillars by rolling pipe cleaners around pencils. Hang the caterpillars on an Easter tree (a small tree branch in planter's foam will work well). On Sunday morning, replace them with butterflies made from wallpaper scraps or colored construction paper.
Kite launch. It's a custom in Bermuda to fly kites on Good Friday. This dates back to the nineteenth century when a teacher, trying to explain Jesus' ascension into heaven, brought his class to the island's highest hill, where he launched a kite bearing an image of Jesus. When the line ran out, he cut it, allowing it to float up to "heaven," and Bermuda children have flown kites on Good Friday ever since. So why not fly kites on Easter Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection, or to talk about Jesus' ascension?
Balloon release. On Saturday, paint a large box with gray spray paint. Tell the children there will be a surprise on Sunday. After they have gone to bed, place a white, helium-filled balloon inside the gray box with a large rock on top. On Sunday morning, take the family outside. Remove the rock and the box lid. Watch the balloon ascend and sing together the first verse of "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today."
Sunrise service. If your church doesn't have a sunrise service, have your own at home. Get up and dress before the sun comes up. Then silently wait together in lawn chairs on the patio or on a blanket spread out on the living room floor. At the first hint of a sunbeam, sing "Christ Arose."