For the past three Sundays, we’ve joined Christians around the world in worshipping from our living rooms. As a mom of three children under five, it’s heartbreaking to see their disappointment at not being able to go to church.
They miss church. Of course they miss it—so do I! On Palm Sunday, as we marched around the living room with palms during our Zoom church service, I cried.
As we face many more weeks of coronavirus quarantine, how are we to help our children celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day (it still is!) and create special memories of a day that is truly “set apart unto the Lord?”
I’ve brainstormed several ideas to help focus our family on what’s truly important. I hope they help you as well! (Note: I’ve focused on Sunday worship below, but these tips could also apply to worship on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, etc.!)
1. Make the Day Different
I find that under quarantine, every day feels the same, especially with kids! Every day has dishes to wash, diapers to change, laundry to fold.
It’s tempting for me to let them blend together in an endless stream.
But Sunday has not changed. We still are to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work, and the seventh you shall rest…For the Lord…rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8)
Here are some suggestions to make your Sunday special:
- Do a special clean on the house Saturday night (for me, that’s actually putting the laundry away, not just washing it…)
- Don’t do regular chores on Sunday (made possible by the fact that we cleaned Saturday night). Everyone rests (even mom!)
- Dress up Sunday morning—nice clothes, curled hair! Whatever makes it different for you!
- Prep a special meal/dessert for Sunday
- Put together a Sunday Box, decorated and filled with musical instruments and art supplies for use on Sunday only
- Have a tea party in the afternoon (we do have three girls……)
2. Recreate What You Can
Under usual (in-church) circumstances, during the homily and prayers of the people at our church, the littles go to Sunday School. They’re given paper cups of cheerios to snack on while they work on their coloring sheets.
The first day we live-streamed church, our kids asked specifically about their paper cups of cheerios. So we set up a small Sunday School table for them and got some special paper cups for that day. Keeping as many routines and rituals as practicable seems wise.
Did you always have popcorn Sunday evening? Or a special dessert after Sunday lunch? A family walk? These are great and important ways to remind our kids (and ourselves) that it’s still Sunday!
Here’s a conversation starter for kids: What parts of Sunday (besides going to church!) make it special to you?
3. Use Free Resources
This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, so I googled “free coloring sheets Palm Sunday.” About a million options came up. I’ve found many offerings for each Sunday we’ve been home.
Quick Tip: On Saturday, check the lectionary readings and pick one story to print off in a coloring sheet. This keeps the kids engaged during the homily, asking questions, and drawing connections. We had some great thoughts come up about what it would have been like to ride a donkey!
Another option is BibleProject, which provides short animated stories of the Bible. Our young girls easily understand and follow the stories. It’s a nice way of reinforcing what they learned from the homily.
4. Light the Christ Candle
He is with us! Many of us probably had tears in our eyes as we celebrated Palm Sunday without our church family surrounding us. It’s certainly grieving not to be gathered together, but the sure and steadfast truth we have is that Christ is with us.
When Christ ascended into heaven, his disciples must have felt a sense of loss. But as He reminded them, let us remind ourselves: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19)
As we light the Christ candle, we can keep that precious reminder in our hearts during this challenging time, and remind ourselves, in a very visible way, that He is present!
5. And Finally, Rejoice!
This is a day that we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection: not just on Easter Sunday, but every Sunday of the year.
When we reach Easter this year, though, many of us will face the temptation to grieve rather than rejoice. It’s natural and right that we should grieve about being separated from our brethren (we aren’t stoics).
But it’s important to remember that our joy, and our hope, and our everlasting life, is not founded in meeting with God’s people on Easter Sunday. It is in the person of the Risen Lord, Our Savior. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Because of His Resurrection, we can look at that empty tomb and rejoice, from the church pew or from our couch.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!