Easter season vocabulary words: Joy

In this children's message, Sara Pantazes explores the difference between happiness and joy.

Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

This is the second lesson in a series that explores words frequently used during the Easter liturgical season. The words covered in this series are resurrection, joy, completeness, and victory.

Setting: The messages were written to be shared during the children’s message time of a worship service. The assumption is that the leader will have no more than 5 minutes per talk, meaning that pedagogically we can drop seeds of ideas in children’s minds but not do any deep dives on the content. That setting also means that the message has to be accessible for 5-year-olds to understand, but also has the opportunity to be instructive to all the adults listening in the congregation.

Note: Any text written in italics is either instructions to the speaker or the answer to a given question. Always allow kids a chance to provide the answer before giving it to them. Whenever possible, positively affirm their contributions to the conversation.

Good morning, everyone…

I wanted to talk to you about another Easter word today, because we’re still in the church season of Easter, and today’s word is “joy.”

What does joy mean? Pause and let kids respond, will probably say happy. I thought you’d say happy and that’s on the right track but joy is more than happy. It’s like extreme happiness or being super-duper happy or happy times a million. For example – if you were to give me a piece of candy, that might make me feel happy. But if you invited me to go on a picnic lunch at the park and we had a really good meal together and then maybe went for a walk or played on the playground, I might feel more than happy. I might feel joy because that would be a really special time together.

Why do you think we might talk about joy at Easter? Pause and let kids respond; affirm their answers. The stories in the Bible that come after the Easter Story tell us about when Jesus’ friends realized that he had come back to life, and we often say, “They were so happy! They must have been so happy to see Jesus again!” But I wonder if “joy” is a word that could better describe how they felt. I wonder if they felt the joy to see Jesus walking next to them or talking with them or eating with them. Do you think they felt more than just happy?

So I want to give you some homework today, some thinking work. As you go about your life this week, going to school and playing with friends and doing your activities….be on the lookout for joy. What is a part of your life that makes you extra, extra happy? Maybe you can talk with your family each night before you go to bed and wonder, when did I feel joy? And know that those things that bring you joy come from God and are a glimpse of the joy that we get from God’s love. And then come back next week and tell me about your joys.

Will you repeat after me as we pray? (Speak one line aloud at a time, allow kids and congregation to echo before saying the next line.)

Joyful God,
Thank you for the joy of Easter.
Thank you for the joy of your love.
Fill us with your joy every day.