Unanticipated surprises can be wonderful. An email or text from an old friend, a free doughnut at your favorite bakery or even an unprompted hug from a loved one can bring joy to your soul. Our current limited mobility can seem to diminish opportunities for unexpected surprises to occur. However, we can surprise one another by creatively sharing God’s love, which surprised us beyond measure through Jesus’ resurrection.
Start your time with your children by asking them to share times when they have received an unexpected surprise. They may share both happy and unhappy surprises, so direct them towards the happy surprises. Ask them what made these surprises joyful. You may even want to share a few unexpected surprises from your own life that made you particularly happy.
Next share the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 28:1-10). Even though you may have read this story to your children on Easter, share it again! This is a great opportunity to share with kids a detail about our liturgical calendar: Easter continues all the way through Pentecost. We continue celebrating and remembering Jesus’ resurrection because it is so important to our faith.
With older children, you may choose to read John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection and revelation to his disciples (John 20:1-23). It is longer and more detailed.
After reading the Scripture, discuss the unexpected surprise that occurred in the story. Encourage your children to notice how the disciples responded to Jesus’ return. Then ask them to think about what this event means for all people. Younger children may need a bit of support making this connection, so you can offer your own interpretation here. (“Jesus’ resurrection shows us that God’s love cannot be destroyed. It lives on and on. We still have it with us today and people in the future will have God’s love.”) Wrap up your discussion by reminding the children God’s love is so abundant and so filled with joy that we can and should share it with one another.
Now for the fun (and creative) part!
As a family, create “love surprises” that you can share with the larger community. You might have some ideas of your own about what those surprises can look like or you could choose one of the following activities.
Write “love notes” to members of your congregation or your community reminding them that you care about them even though you cannot be together right now. You can even include meaningful pictures or drawings with your notes.
Here’s one of the notes I wrote to a family in my church. I included a picture of one of my ducklings because I know these children love animals.
Make a sign thanking essential workers in your community for continuing to care for us during the pandemic.
Here’s an example from the congregation I serve. This family recognized that those delivering food and packages to their home were working hard to ensure they had the basic supplies they needed. The parents and children made this poster and taped it to their front door, so delivery workers would be greeted by a message of love and gratitude.
JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.