A child and caregiver sitting in a pew during the 9am service at Trinity Church

3 Ways Into Sunday’s Stories for Children: Love and Loss

Fifth Sunday of Lent

In some ways, the Lazarus story in the Gospel of John this week is harder to talk about with children than the Holy Week narrative next week. At the beginning of Lent, we talked about the season as a time of getting ready. Besides foreshadowing the resurrection, the Lazarus story helps us get ready for Holy Week, with its themes of a lot of big feelings and transformations. With young children, rather than dwelling on physical suffering, death, belief, and miracles in a general way, the story of Mary, Martha, and Jesus, and their shared love for Lazarus, allows us to talk about love and loss, and “unbinding” all the things that keep us from loving as deeply and openly as these four friends.

Print, fold, read, and color the story booklet.

A cartoon line drawing of Jesus talking to the disciples

1. Sing and Dance

Sing and dance with different versions of  “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”: a version featuring odd couple animal friends, a sing-along version, a Spanish language version, and a version with ASL.

2. Play and Pray

Play Emoji Reflections. Sometimes it’s hard to express big feelings with words. Sometimes we try to hide them. It’s harder to be present to people if you don’t know how they feel. Draw or print some emojis. Sit across from a partner. Try to remember a time when you felt what the emoji expresses first. Then express that emoji with your face or by acting it out, without talking. See if the partner can identify which emoji you’re expressing. Next, pick another emoji and talk about it, or share a story about a time you felt that. 

Pray: Dear God, thank you for being with us in both our sadness and our joy. Help us to remember that being with others in hard times and fun times is part of love and friendship. Amen.

3. Create

Create Emoji stones or cards. Paint river rocks or draw emojis on index cards. Keep a set of them on the family table. At mealtime, each person could choose one that they are currently feeling or felt or witnessed that day or recently. Take turns talking about the feelings at the table. 

Other Lenten activities:

  • Make an ACTS prayer prompt fortune teller.
  • Print this Lenten calendar. Each day, choose one lenten practice for your family to try. Put a sticker on or mark the spaces after you have completed that day’s practice. Feel free to continue that practice throughout Lent and ongoing. (There are 46 days in Lent, but we don’t include Sundays, as they are “little Easters.” It’s up to you if you want to take a break from your Lenten practices on Sundays or not.)
  • Make a Paschal candle. Cover or hide it until the Easter Vigil or Easter morning. Then, light it every day or each Sunday during the 50 days of Eastertide.
  • Choose from these weekly practices for Lent or make up your own as a family.

We will have materials for all of these activities and copies of the book Sparrow’s Prayer at Children’s Time, Sundays at 10am on the Mezzanine, for children to take home throughout Lent or while supplies last.

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