Four Weeks to Celebrate Easter 2017
Compiled by Heidi Kruckenberg and Saydi Shumway
Week One (March 26-April 1) Miracles
Family and personal scripture study: Read and study miracles Jesus performed during his life on earth. Healings, feeding multitudes, forgiving sins, casting out devils, raising the dead, controlling nature (calming the storm, filling nets with fish), etc. Take time to read and ponder the definition of “miracles” in the Bible Dictionary. Ask yourself and those you study with:
Suggested miracles to study (one per day):
Click here to be redirected to the LDS Bible Videos Index.
Week Two (April 2-8) Teachings
Family and personal scripture study: Read and study Jesus’ teachings as recorded in the gospels. Consider how to apply these teachings in your life. What experiences have you had that testified of the truth of these teachings? Apply the parables to your personal experience—how do the parables differ from and mirror your understanding of these teachings. Specifically look at:
click here to access LDS bible videos.
Week Three (April 9-15) Holy Week: Palm Sunday through Resurrection
Family and personal scripture study: Read and discuss the events of the final week of Jesus’ life. Each day read and ponder the meaning of that day’s event as it felt for Jesus, his apostles, his followers, and the significance for generations and individuals now. Imagine and write about/discuss how you would have felt to be present for that event. Consider how these daily events fulfilled prophecies.
(some of the ideas for this holy week were inspired by A Christ Centered Easter by Janet and Joe Hales)
Day One: Palm Sunday
Day Two: Monday—Cleansing the Temple
Day Three: Tuesday—Parables and teachings of Jesus
Day Four: Wednesday—Rest in Bethany
Day Five: Thursday—Last Supper and Jesus’ prayer and agony in Gethsemane
Day Six: Friday—Good Friday (Jesus’ Trial and Crucifixion)
Day Seven: Saturday—Jewish Sabbath
Day Eight: Easter Sunday—Jesus’ Resurrection
Week Four (April 16-22) The Resurrected Christ
Family and personal scripture study: Each day of this week read and write about/discuss various disciples’ reactions to and interactions with the resurrected Lord. Put yourself in each person’s shoes. How do you feel before, during, and after seeing the resurrected savior? What does Jesus do to show his authenticity to each person? What does he do to show compassion? What does Jesus teach the people to whom he shows himself?
Finally, consider the promise that Jesus will come to earth again. What do you imagine this Second Coming to be like? What do the prophecies say about the Second Coming? How do you feel as you consider that you may be a witness of this triumphant return?
Give participants a list of what to find and a bag to put their treasures in. When you gather together at the end of the walk, have participants take out their treasures one by one and discuss how each relates to the Easter story, using the chart and scripture references below.
On your walk find:
Jesus’ pain in the Garden
Luke 22:44, Matt 26:38-41
something prickly or thorny
the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s head
something made of wood
something dark or black
the darkness that covered the earth at His death
Luke 23: 44-45
something round and smooth
the stone rolled in front of the tomb
the herbs and spices brought to anoint Christ’s body
the linens Mary found in the tomb on Easter morning
something colorful and beautiful
The hope and joy that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
something that captures or contains water
Christ is living water.
something light in color
Jesus is the light of the world.
Passover is the oldest and most important of Jewish religions festivals, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and his creation of the Israelite people. The term Passover refers to the tenth and final plague God brought upon the Egyptians that would kill the firstborn. The Israelites had to mark their doors with blood so that God would “pass over” their home.
Seder means “order.” In traditional Jewish Seders there is an order in which people drink four glasses of wine and tell the story of the passover. It is a long dinner celebration, lasting 2-3 hours sometimes. We’re going to do a much simpler version to help us feel connected to our Jewish roots, the powerful truths of deliverance that we learn in the story of the children of israel and remember that Christ was a Jew.
The last supper was likely part of the Christ’s Passover celebration. Here Christ introduced the sacrament, washed his disciples’ feet, and told his disciples important things that were to come.
Tonight we eat foods that Christ might have eaten (lentil soup, figs, bread as ‘sop’, pita, hummus) and talk about and taste some of the symbolic foods that people eat during a traditional Passover Seder.
This is a celebration. While we should be respectful and listen to each other and try to understand the importance of these symbols, we don’t have to be solemn and quiet and serious. We are celebrating deliverance!
It’s traditional to clean the house thoroughly before the Passover Seder. You are to remove any trace of chametz (leaven)....we don’t do this, but I love the idea of getting the kids to clean up! This is supposed to signify and attitude of penitence, willingness to remove any corrupting influence and submit to God in obedience.
Set the table a little more fancy than usual. Put out candles and jerusalem plates. You could also sit on the floor with cushions. Make sure all the symbolic foods are on the table. Traditionally there is a Seder plate set out with the symbolic foods placed on it in an orderly way.
Hide several pieces of regular raised bread around the house for the children to find before you start dinner.
Washing of the hands. From antiquity, Jews perform a ritual hand-washing before meals.
You can set a place for Elijah.
When you call the children to the table ask them to find all the leaven in the house and bring it to the table. Talk a little about how we are supposed to remove anything within ourselves that is prideful, puffed up, contrary to God’s will.
The mother should light the passover candles. The candles symbolize the presence of God and mark this as a sacred time.
Start with a blessing on the food.
During the meal
As we eat we talk about the symbolism of the foods:
Roasted lamb shank bone: One of the most striking symbols of Passover is the roasted lamb shank bone (called zeroah), which commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Some people say it symbolizes the outstretched arm of God (the Hebrew word zeroah can mean “arm”).
Roasted egg: The roasted egg (baytsah) is a symbol in many different cultures, usually signifying springtime and renewal. Here it stands in place of one of the sacrificial offerings which was performed in the days of the Second Temple. This egg isn’t even eaten during the meal; the shell just needs to look really roasted.
Maror (“bitter herb”): Any bitter herb will work, though horseradish is the most common. Bitter herbs bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The Seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but people are called to look at their own bitter enslavements, whether addiction or habit.
Charoset: The sweetness of this salad made of apples and nuts is to symbolize the sweetness god can bring. It is to be eaten after the bitter herb. It also is supposed to remind us of the mortar that the israelites used to build with during their time of slavery.
Karpas: A vegetable other than bitter herbs, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley, celery or boiled potato is usually used. The dipping of a simple vegetable bounces into salt water (which represents tears) mirrors the pain felt by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.
Salt water: Salt water symbolizes the tears and sweat of enslavement, though paradoxically, it’s also a symbol for purity, springtime, and the sea, the mother of all life. Often a single bowl of salt water sits on the table into which each person dips their karpas during the Seder.
Matzah: Perhaps the most important symbol on the Seder table is a plate that has a stack of three pieces of matzah (unleavened bread) on it. The matzot (that’s plural for matzah) are typically covered with a cloth. People have come up with numerous interpretations for the three matzot. Some say they represent the Kohen class (the Jewish priests in ancient times), the Levites (who supported the priests), and the Israelites (the rest of the Jews). What symbolism you attribute to this trinity isn't all that important, as long as you’re thinking about it.
During the struggles of Soviet Jewry, a fourth piece of matzah was added to the Seder plate to symbolize the struggles of Jews who were not yet free enough to celebrate the Passover. Today, some families still use that fourth matzah as a way of remembering all people who are not yet free to celebrate as they wish.
Wine cups and wine (or grape juice): Everyone at the Seder has a (usually very small) cup or glass from which they drink four cups of wine. Traditionally, the four cups represent the four biblical promises of redemption: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a people . . .”
During the meal we also try to discuss:
Finish the meal with a hymn just as Christ did with his disciples at the last supper.
Good Friday—Stations of the Cross Ideas
This is a solemn activity that should be conducted with the utmost reverence. The idea is to move from space to space in your house/yard to ponder the journey our Savior took from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Garden Tomb. Elder Holland’s talk (“None Were with Him,” by Elder Jeffrey Holland, April 2009) may be helpful to read as you prepare for this activity. Have items ready in advance, as well as your scriptures nearby. Say a prayer and sing a hymn before beginning and ask for the Spirit to be with you as you consider these events. This activity will help children feel, understand, and remember these events using physical items and activities that relate to the events of Good Friday.
Item: olive leaf, picture of olive press
Picture of Christ with angel (who might be the angel?)
Discuss: Alma 34—take upon him all of our sorrows. What does it mean to succor? Have you ever wished for a “cup to pass”? How has suffering helped you help others? How does knowing someone understands your pain help you when you’re suffering?
Item: ten dimes
Discuss: betrayal, how it feels. Have you felt betrayed?
3. Christ condemned before Caiaphas
Mark 14:55-61, 62-65
Item: cloth to rent/tear
Discuss: humiliation, kindness in the face of cruelty, what does “blasphemy” mean?
4. Christ before Pilate
Matt 27:2, 11-14 and Isaiah 53:7
He answered nothing
Pilate’s wife’s dream (Matt 27:19-20)
5. Christ before Herod
He answered nothing again
6. Christ before Pilate (second time)
Item/activity: wash hands
7. Christ scourged and mocked by soldiers: crown of thorns, scarlet robe, whipped.
Item/activity: Make crown of thorns
Discuss: how did Jesus react to mocking? How can we react? Did it change Jesus’s course of action?
8. Walk to Golgotha (bear cross)
Matt 27:32, Luke 23:27-31
Simon asked to help him. Multitude followed him, sorrowing for him. He told them not to sorrow, that they should cry for their children who will see horrid things.
Item/activity: carry a heavy piece of wood on your shoulders/back and walk (uphill if possible)
Discuss: How can we step in to help others being ridiculed? How can we carry Jesus’s cross?
9. Nailed to cross between two thieves
Luke 23:32-33, John 19:17-22
Discuss: Golgotha (place of the skull), sign that read “king of the Jews;” think about pain of being crucified
Item/activity: nail a nail into a board
10. Soldiers mock him, give him vinegar, tell him to save himself.
Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:34, 36-37; John 19:23-24
Discuss: Christ forgives them, they know not what they do. They cast lots for his clothes.
Activity: cast lots (throw dice)
11. Christ asks disciple to care for Mary, who is there.
Discuss: This is one of the last things Jesus does before dying. How should we treat our mothers? How do we care for them? Why is this important?
12. Darkness in the land: “why has thou forsaken me”
Matthew 27:45-46, Mark 15:33-34
Item/Activity: blow out candle
Discuss: why God withdrew. Did he really? “None Were with Him,” by Elder Jeffrey Holland, April 2009.
13. Giving up the Ghost
Discuss: He says that he thirsts. Is given a sponge full of vinegar to drink. Christ cries and gives up the ghost. Temple veil rent in twain, earthquake and rocks rent. Graves opened up. Darkness in the land. Centurion said that Jesus was a righteous man.
Item/Activity: taste vinegar
14. Stabbed in the side
Discuss: How did the people treat his body?
15. His body taken off the cross, wrapped in linen, and placed in the tomb with a stone rolled over.
Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42
Nicodemus (John 3:1-10, 7:50) This man loved and supported Jesus, how does that make you feel?
Rested for the Sabbath.
On your walk find:
On your walk find:
On your walk find: something sharp