To the Families of St. John’s,
Greetings to you! I’m Dawn Rundman, the director of resource development at Sparkhouse, a publisher of curricula used in children and youth ministry at St. John’s. I’ve been asked to write about how your families can celebrate the season of Easter. In my role as a resource developer, I’ve been listening to and talking with ministry leaders serving families of children and youth throughout this challenging year. What have I learned through these conversations? Most families have not been yearning for extensive lists of parenting books, devotionals, at-home weekly lessons, and Bible reading plans. (I bet you’re not surprised by this finding.) Short prayers, simple faith rituals, unrushed story times, walks in nature, and other ways to enjoy connection with God and each other have been a better fit for stressedout families.
Along those lines, try one of these simple ideas with your family during the Easter season.
Get out the fancy candles. Last March when it became clear that my family was going to eat a lot more meals together, we decided to use the candles we’d been saving for a special occasion. (We’re still doing this a year later. We still have fancy candles to burn.) Eating by candlelight can help your family enjoy eating together during the Easter season! Get out those candles and light them before saying your table prayer. With your gentle guidance, even young children can help light and extinguish candles.
Share a morning or evening blessing. Since my now-teenager children were infants, I have blessed them most evenings before bedtime by making the sign of the cross on their foreheads while saying their first and middle name and then the words “Child of God.” This moment of quiet, physical connection is a powerful one to share. This faith practice of blessing your child before they go to sleep is one to try during the season of Easter when we remember that we are baptized children of God.
Commit acts of family service by supporting your church’s staff. Here’s an insider’s perspective: Ministry leaders have experienced tremendous challenges and heartbreak during the pandemic. They have guided families through the loss of loved ones whether to Covid or other causes while reinforcing social distancing and small group gathering. They’ve learned new technologies in record time, shifted to new models of congregational care, addressed financial challenges, and rethought ministry plans, all while tending to their own home lives. Your family can encourage them, whether through prayers, cards, calls, texts, or small gifts. Brainstorm some ideas to come up with an encouragement plan.
Explore ways your family can grieve together. Easter is a festive time of the church year as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we journey to the cross before we witness the empty tomb. As you consider what your family has faced during the past 12+ months, take some time to listen deeply to each other in response to questions like “What have you lost? What do you feel sad about? Who do you miss?” Modeling how to grieve helps your children learn important lessons about the full range of emotions that we feel. The Bible includes many laments, especially in the Psalms. God hears these words of sadness and loss. God comforts us and is present with us. God knows that we are Easter People who still struggle and weep and cry out.
No matter how you celebrate (or grieve) during this Easter season, let me say this: Families, you’ve done something amazing. You have made it through a difficult year that no parenting book, class, website, or expert could have predicted. You’ve pivoted, canceled plans, reimagined work conditions, adjusted child care, and parented (or grandparented) your children through the four seasons and are now deep in the second spring of the pandemic. We may not be able to see the exact time when the new normal may arrive, but we are comforted by the promises of a resurrected Jesus who offers us his peace, now and always.
Peace, Dawn Rundman