I often get asked if services such as Good Friday or Ash Wednesday are appropriate for kids. After all, they deal with ‘heavier’ topics such as death and sin. Would kids ‘get’ it? Could it be ‘scary’ for kids?
Kids get it
In my experience, kids do get it. They get life and death (as they ‘get’ much more than we often give them credit for). They get mistakes (sin) and making up (forgiveness). They get actions and consequences. Shoot. They experience these things every day. As we all do.
And no, it is not scary. It’s not like we’re re-enacting the crucifixion.
Bring the kids. There’s lots to see and do.
What’s more, Good Friday is a different kind of service. There’s more liturgical action – more movement – than in most of our services. We start with a brief Scripture reading that flows right into sharing Holy Communion. Following Communion we read the story of our Lord’s Passion in eight parts, each part separated by a song as something – the communion cups and plates, the altar cloth, the banners – from the altar area is removed. This stripping of the altar is an old Maundy Thursday tradition of making the altar stark and bare for Good Friday.
After the altar is stripped and the Passion is read, we lift up ancient prayers asking God’s mercy on us and on our world. This time of prayer concludes with the entrance of a large wooden cross into our worship space. As worship ends people are invited forward to adore the cross – to come forward and pray before the cross. Individual prayer with Pastor is also offered at this time. We depart the service not with a song of praise or a grand blessing, but in the quiet of the cross.
Quiet kids? Maybe. Maybe not.
And even if our kids are not always quiet, that’s ok. They may be having a tough night. We all have tough nights. They may be tired. We all get tired, especially on a Friday evening. The service starts at 7pm and runs a little less than an hour. It might be close to bed time for many young ones.
Or, they may be responding to the service itself, noticing, sensing, feeling that something is different. What a beautiful tension for them to feel, because yes, something is different. Oh that we would all feel that tension in our souls this night! Our Lord has been rejected, betrayed, and killed. And we’ve been caught up in that rejection, betrayal, and death.
But death is not the end of the story. Come back on Sunday, kids. And don’t be quiet. There will be good news to share!
Good Friday worship is at 7pm on Friday, March 30. Easter Sunday worship is at 9:30am on April 1.
Related post: Spring Break, Easter and Church – what to do if you’re away from church this Spring Break