Easter and the entire season of Lent offer meaningful opportunities for teenagers to grow in Christian understanding. Take full advantage of the many spiritual topics Easter presents. Give teenagers an object lesson in humility, a core Christian and central Easter message. Introduce Sunday school teens to the beauty and the messages of the Easter triduum, the three holy days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. Let your lessons illuminate Gospel teachings to teach teens the timeless and universal messages the Easter season keeps alive.
Washing the Disciples Feet (John 13:1-15)
Jesus' entire life is a testament to humility and love. Engage teenagers with a Holy Thursday Sunday school lesson leading into Holy Week. Re-enact the scene in John 13:1-15: Ask students to sit in chairs arranged in a circle. Place a large bowl filled with fresh water in front of one student. Lay a clean towel and a washcloth beside the bowl. Ask one student to read the Gospel passage and another student to lead the group in a prayer of his choice related to the narrative. When the prayer is finished, instruct the first student to kneel in front of the teen to her right. Ask the second teen to remove his socks. As the first teen washes the second teen's feet with the cloth dipped in the water, encourage the group to keep their heads bowed. Ask the two teens in action to look at each other with respect. Continue around the circle. Ask students to share their thoughts about and responses to the experience.
"Crucify him! Crucify him!" (John 19:6)
An important Good Friday experience occurs when a Catholic congregation participates as the angry mob as Jesus carries his cross through the streets of Jerusalem. If your Christian denomination does not re-enact the scene, do so with the teens in your class. Ask students to write a one-page journal entry exploring why it is important to shout those killing words. Guide your students to understand how people want to be observers, not participants in terrible behavior. Suggest that each person denies Christ and actively calls for his death. Ask students to reflect on the scope of Jesus' forgiveness in light of this narrative.
"It is finished." (John 19:30)
Teach this lesson the week after Easter Sunday. Read the Crucifixion narrative in John 19:1-37. Ask students to gather in small groups if there are many students in the class. Instruct the teens to brainstorm what "It is finished" means. Suggest an idea like Jesus' human life was finished and a stage in God's revelation was ended. Ask students to speculate what the next stage in God's plan for people might involve. Encourage teens to discuss the importance of suffering in spiritual growth. Bring the groups together to present the ideas the students discussed.
- crucifix image by Dusan Radivojevic from Fotolia.com