A Good Friday

cross.jpgI always find it peculiar that more churches don’t offer children’s services on days like Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. Kids are so drawn to the mystery and ritual and stories of our faith and yet we often exclude them from such experiences. However, forming them in the liturgy of the church at a young age can deeply impact their spiritual lives as adults. Wouldn’t that seem to be one of our greatest responsibilities?

No, a six-year-old isn’t going to sit reverently and patiently through an hour-long Good Friday service. But they still need to be brought into the story of the Passion. And this can be done in a variety of ways. So a parish can still hold the traditional Good Friday service in addition to a children’s version of the Stations of the Cross or even a simple telling of the story with props and music. It just takes energy, foresight, and commitment.

I was reflecting on this today as I tried to find a Good Friday service appropriate for Ben and Zack. There was practically nothing anywhere near us. And being on sabbatical I couldn’t take them to my own church (where, yes, we offer a Good Friday service for kids). So I decided to take them to Maryknoll in Ossining and walk the outdoor Stations of the Cross. I printed out a version of the Stations that I like to do with kids — complete with a “15th Station” that includes a bit about the resurrection. This is kind of like the 19th Hole back at the golf club; it doesn’t really exist. But I like kids to walk the way of the cross in the context of Easter rather than leaving Jesus in the tomb. And, hey, it beats showing them Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

It was a blustery morning out there — 35 degrees and windy. But the boys were great taking turns reading the stations. On the way home Ben said, “Dad, can we do this every year on Good Friday?” Um, I think that could be arranged.

I later went to a noonday service by myself at local church. It was simple, quiet, and contemplative. But the one I’ll remember in years to come had already taken place earlier in the day.



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