Category Archives: Easter

The Power of Story

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By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

The Power of Story

“Once upon a time” … or “in a galaxy far far away” may be familiar tag lines of popular stories, which are very entertaining, but they don’t compare to the power of another kind of story.

A few years back, my wife and I prayerfully decided we wanted more children.  At this point, we already had three young daughters.  I really wanted to have a son but felt confident the genetic jackpot would land on female this next round.   I wasn’t sure I could handle being outnumbered 5 to 1. God placed a desire on our hearts to adopt, and we went from there.  We discovered our desire to adopt an African-American boy was well received.  Several months of paperwork and waiting followed, and then suddenly we got a call.  We drove through the night and arrived in Nashville.  The baby and birth mom were still at the hospital.  As soon as we saw this little one, we fell in love.  After spending some time with his birth mom, a bond began to form.  The following day we headed home.

My son loves to hear this story, especially the part about us falling in love with him and later when his sisters went gaga over him.  It reminds him of who he is and that he is part of our family.  His story merged with our story that day.  My wife has done a wonderful job of creating scrapbooks with photos from each year of our family’s existence.  The kids love to go through and talk about those times.

The power of our story is rooted in reminding us of our value, our importance, and our identity.  My children love to hear their birth stories as a milestone of their being part of our family.  God’s story is powerful in the same way.  The fall of man, the birth of Jesus, his death, and his resurrection all highlight his amazing love, but also our immeasurable value to the Father.  Sharing the God’s whole story during Easter is a great way to help kids merge their stories with his.

Another powerful story is our testimony.  Sharing how we became Christ followers, how our trajectory was diverted and our story merged fully with God’s gives our children insight into our hearts and a glimpse of being a part of a much bigger family – God’s family.  In a way, our testimony is our adoption story.  God adopted us, and when we embraced him as our Father, we became his children.

I encourage you to share stories during this Easter weekend.

  • Tell the story of each child’s birth or adoption (be sure to share what you felt)
  • Tell God’s whole story – the need for a savior, for a price to be paid, and his victory as well as what it means to us.
  • Tell your faith story and let your children know why you decided to follow Christ.
  • Talk about your faith story as your birth story/adoption story and how you are a child of God’s now.

The power of these stories is their ability to remind us of our identity, our value, and connect us.  Let your stories be told, retold, and continuing to be told a milestone.

A Sad Friday and a Happy Sunday

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By Teresa Sayles, Creative Arts Director

Woodland Hills Church

I grew up in the Catholic church and always loved Easter week.  Amongst the usual parts of mass and the liturgy, Holy Week was full of once-a-year events: foot washing, the reading of the passion drama complete with different people speaking the dialogue parts, and candles in each of our hands which were blown out in solemnity before we all filed out in silence.  And then, Easter morning, the music was more joyful and light than usual with everyone in their nice clothes and the scent of Easter lilies filling the church.

Now, as an adult, I still love Easter week but for different reasons.  Rather than being a welcome change from the usual, I now anticipate Easter with both sadness and joy because of its story.  The Easter narrative is full of both gut-wrenching grief and utmost joy.  And while many of the details of the story are perhaps not quite child-friendly, the message of it all very much is.

As we prepare for Easter this next week, I encourage you and your family to intentionally set aside time to walk through the story together.  As you do, ask questions about what Jesus and his friends might have been feeling at various points, and allow space for your kids to ask questions, as well.

One great way to walk through the story is to use The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  With beautiful illustrations by Jago, the story really comes to life in a meaningful and yet child-appropriate manner.  Even older children will love this version of the Bible!  You might consider this reading plan for your week:

  • Sunday: The beginning: a perfect home” (page 18)
  • Monday: The terrible lie (page 28)
  • Tuesday: He’s here! (page 176)
  • Wednesday: Washed with tears (page 280)
  • Thursday: The servant king (page 286)
  • Friday: A dark night in the garden (page 294)
  • Saturday: The sun stops shining (page 302)
  • Sunday: God’s wonderful surprise (page 310)

For added fun and focus, you can work together to create a mural or comic book of the events as you read them.

However you and your family choose to prepare for Easter, be sure to include time for kids to ask questions and talk through the aspects of the story that might be a little confusing or scary.

May you and your family have a blessed Easter week as we prepare and celebrate the greatest event in history!

Parent Night Out

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

As a parent, we hear a lot of internal and external noise reminding us how crucial it is for us to invest time, energy, and love into our kids.  The experts warn us about the danger of not spending enough quality time, not reading enough, or not being diligent enough.  We also have voices in our mind pointing out our mistakes, our lack of effort, or any other of a thousand ways to make us feel guilty.

Yet, I’m confident that most of us are putting the needs of our kids before our own much of the time.  We sacrifice sleep, we burn through free time helping kids with homework, we chauffer kids all over the county, we volunteer to help with sports teams, and we work to ensure that kids have all the equipment needed for all their activities.

One thing experts have said that often gets lost in all the noise about what parents should be doing is the importance of a parent taking care of him or herself.  A crucial element to being a good parent is being rested, energized, and healthy.  Caring for our heart, our mind, our body, and our soul.  We only have so much to give of ourselves, and when our tank is empty, then our kids are in an emotional drought.

If you are like me, it is difficult to put importance on doing things to ensure that I’m well cared for rather than doing stuff for my kids or others.  Somewhere in our psyche, we’ve got a misguided sense of selflessness that can be unhealthy.  I think this parent guilt is emphasized in our culture and reinforced in our daily comparisons to other parents.

Whatever the reason, I think it is about time you recharged your internal love bank, and your kids will benefit from it.

We’ve got a great solution that not only helps you but also ensures that your kids are safe, welcome, and having a great time!

PARENT NIGHT OUT

Tuesday, February 14th

From 6 – 9 pm

Check in begins at 5:45 pm

For kids birth – 5th grade

Fun activities, a light snack, games, crafts, a bouncy house and more!

All you’ve got to do is register before February 8th (after that it is $10 per child) to keep it free.

Click Here http://whchurch.org/blog/7910/parent-night-outto register

I encourage you as parents to build time to recharge your batteries as a part of your normal routine.  It benefits you and your family.  It is a win-win and worth the effort to arrange your schedule and say no to all the possibilities as well as that internal voice trying to guilt you into being an emotionally drained martyr.

Easter Weekend Services

We wanted to remind those of you who attend Woodland Hills reguarly that this Easter weekend things will be a little different.

First off, there is a Good Friday service at 7pm.  However, it isn’t recommended for children under 12 as some of its themes will be more on the mature side.  If your family does still wish to attend, there will be children’s activity packets available that include an Easter coloring book.

Our Saturday service will be at its normal time of 5pm.

On Easter Sunday, we will be offering three morning services – 8:30, 10:00, and 11:30.  We highly recommend you try to be early or right on time as we anticipate higher numbers of visitors this weekend.  Due to our shorter service time, we will begin lessons for the children earlier than usual, which is another reason we are encouraging families to try to be on time this weekend.

We’re excited to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior with your family this weekend!

Easter and Kids

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By Patrick Showers, Elementary Associate Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Easter is a holiday that many Americans value enough to celebrate in some way. Most people tie the Easter bunny, colorful eggs, and baskets full of goodies to this holiday more than Jesus’ resurrection. Woodland Hills Church just completed a series encouraging followers of Christ to go beyond our comfort zones and share our faith and the love of God with people connected to our lives. So, how does this work with kids?

The Children’s Ministry staff has wrestled with this question for years, and I’d love to tell you we figured out a perfect answer, but that just wasn’t the case. The truth is, it will look different for kids depending on their age, spiritual maturity, and personality. However, we did notice a few things in our observations of children.

  1. Kids are fully capable of following Jesus but at an age-appropriate level. This means kids can be on fire for Jesus one second and erupt in a fit of screaming tears the next. This is normal for kids. They are a work in progress, as are we all. Their brains and bodies are still growing and developing, and this can sometimes interfere with their intention to follow Jesus.
  2. Kids can share about Jesus and the good news, but they will do it in a way that makes sense to them. Some kids are more direct, sometimes because of their age or because of their personality, and may even be unafraid to tell an adult their choices are sinful and they need to ask Jesus for forgiveness while others may talk more about God’s love for them and everyone.
  3. Equipping and empowering kids does not have a simple formulaic answer, but the best thing we can pass onto our children to help them learn how to share the love and good news of Jesus are foundational truths about Him:
  • God loves us no matter what we do or who we are
  • God will never give up on us
  • God has shown His love and provided a way to fix our relationship with Him
  • God wants us to be close to Him
  • Jesus shows us what God is like and models how to live

As parents, we can model all these truths while sharing the good news with people, as well

  1. Children are motivated by love, and I believe they are also prompted by the Holy Spirit even though they may not realize it or even be able to put words to the reason why they shared the good news with someone.

Easter provides a great environment for children to grow in their faith and understanding of the good news.   The story of Jesus is a great place to start equipping our kids.   Retell the story of Jesus and how His life and sacrifice impacted you. Use a set of Resurrection eggs to help kids retell the story. Several area churches provide experiential retellings of the Easter story with the audience being a part of the story as they watch it play out live. (Our family particularly enjoys St. Andrew’s church in Mahtomedi’s Good Friday Easter Experience). Finding ways to tie the baskets, the eggs, and even the Easter bunny back to God’s story is also a great way to empower kids. Their conversations with their peers could get interesting if they start making connections to the good news while chatting about the goodies found in their Easter baskets.

We can do our part to equip kids by passing on the truth, sharing God’s story as well as our own faith stories, and by modeling a faith that follows God and shares the good news with others. The Holy Spirit can take it from there and empower our children to continue the legacy of discipleship that Jesus handed over to His disciples thousands of years ago.

Lesson Trailer for March 27th

Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Easter Sunday, March 27th, Toddlers-4th grade will celebrate how Jesus saved us all and changed the world forever on the first Easter Sunday (Matthew 26:36-28:10; Mark 14:32-16:20; Luke 22:39-24:21; John 18:1-21:23).

Easter Celebration

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By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Curriculum Specialist

Woodland Hills Church

This Sunday, we celebrate the most incredible event the world has ever known: The resurrection of Christ. When sin entered the world with the Fall and Adam and Eve’s mistrust of God’s love, the perfect world God had initially created became corrupted. Nothing went untouched by the stain and death of sin. But God loved humanity too much to let sin separate us from His love forever. And so He began a rescue mission: He would work with humanity through a specific nation of people (the Israelites) in order to bring about the salvation and restoration of the entire world. That salvation came through the life and death of His only Son, Jesus. His death and resurrection created a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us each to know God and be with Him forever. It truly was the greatest day I history.

Below are some fun and engaging ideas to help you and your family celebrate the greatest day ever.

  • Take a nature walk as a family and look for signs of spring such as new plants coming out of the dirt, geese returned from southern migrations, and songbirds chirping in the trees. Talk about how the “rebirth” of nature each spring is kind of like Jesus’ own resurrection – It seemed to everyone that He had died and would be gone forever, but then Sunday came, and He came back to life again!
  • Create a “tomb” and large round stone for its entrance using various supplies you might have around the house (play dough, construction paper, shoebox, popsicle sticks, etc.). As you make it, tell or read the stories of Good Friday and Easter (using an age-appropriate Bible such as The Jesus Storybook Bible or the NIrV translation) and talk with your kids about how Jesus and his friends might have felt at various points in the story. Once your tomb is complete, take a small toy or play dough figure and lay it inside the tomb. Then roll the large round stone in front of the “tomb” entrance and leave it like that Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, before your kids are up (or Saturday night if you want to sleep in a bit), set the round stone piece aside and take out the toy figure inside. Leave it open and empty for your kids to discover on Easter morning.
  • For those with older children, take time to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (2005) and have a discussion about sin and the consequences of our unwise or selfish choices and how God continues to love us and even is willing to die for us despite our sin.
  • Create a mural or comic book depicting Christ’s death and resurrection using art paper or multiple sheets of paper. Talk about the story and how God was working even in the midst people’s anger, fear, and hatred to bring about salvation for everyone.