Taking children through Holy week - Who was Mary?

Who was Mary?

This is the best time of year to get children involved. I loved working with children during Holy week
Mary anoints Jesus feet
there is so much symbolism. It’s a chance to tell the most amazing story ever told.

We take it for granted that the children know the story. But recently I overheard a conversation between an 8-year-old, and two 10 year olds. They were talking to an adult who asked them what they were doing and why… one of the 10 year olds said and on Easter Sunday Jesus was resuscitated. Well, perhaps God did do that to Jesus. Very often we forget just because we know the story so well that the children need not just to have the story told to them but explained.

I was at a meeting we were discussing the Easter Story and what we should tell the children. It was said, ‘We don’t want to tell a gory story to the children’ But the story of Easter is gory, it is sad, but it has the most wonderful ending. It’s important that we tell the whole story, we don’t need to go into blood thirsty detail, but we do have to tell the real story.

John 12 1-10

So, today is Monday, the day after Palm Sunday and we find Jesus back in Bethany where Lazarus lived, his friends were giving a dinner in Jesus’ honour. It was a special occasion.

Who was Mary?

Mary was a common name at the time of Jesus. She was the sister of Martha and Lazarus,

Mary was quiet, a listener.

It was very unusual for women at the time of Jesus to be allowed to sit at a teachers feet. It was the place for disciples. But Jesus allowed her to sit and listen to him.. Maybe Jesus knew that she would listen and understand.

The perfume was expensive, it was pure nard or spikenard it was imported from India.

It was worth about 300 denarii a years wages.

It is important to note that Mary does not speak – her actions say it all.

Her act of anointing Jesus’ feet was one of devotion, of love and of worship. It was if she knew what Jesus was to face in the coming days.

Re-enact this passage with the children it could be a multi-sensory experience that they will remember for a long time afterwards.

Before you start think about where the children are sitting.

What music will you use?

What pictures will you use?

What props will you use?

My suggestion is:

Use baby oil and aroma therapy oils Lavender is the safest to use with your chosen Jesus child. Always ask permission from parents if you choose to do this.

Sit the children as if they were sitting around a table in the time of Jesus, which means sitting them on cushions on the floor.

Sit the children quietly..

At one end have a low table with a purple cloth on it. Purple for Lent, for Jesus the king of heaven. Place a scented candle in the centre of the table. The aim is to fill the room with fragrance. Also place on their biscuits or cakes and a jug of juice with cups. To be shared after.

Have a child as the characters, to act out the story.

Jesus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Judas sitting around with everyone else within the circle.

Get the children to take their shoes and socks off and leave them elsewhere in the room.

Just sitting with their bare feet will be an experience…

Show the children a photo of Jesus sitting at a meal.

Jesus was invited to a special meal in Bethany, it was held to honour him.

Martha served – (Martha pass around a plate of biscuits)

Whilst Lazarus was reclining with the others.

Then Mary took out a jar of very expensive perfume.

She knelt at the feet of Jesus and poured the perfume over his feet.

(act this out – make sure that Jesus has his feet in a bowl.)

She wiped his feet with her hair, (pretend this) and the house was filled with a beautiful scent.

Judas (the disciple who was about to betray him, who also was a thief.)

Spoke: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?”

“Leave her alone” Jesus replied “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Close with a prayer.

And perhaps sing ‘Shalom my friend, shalom my friend, shalom, shalom’

Shalom, my friend,
Shalom, my friend,
Shalom, shalom,
May peace and joy be with you today,
Shalom, shalom.

This website has a downloadable tracks and music, Click here for more.

Have the juice and biscuits together, as Jesus would have shared a meal with his friends.

Here is a free download and gives you a crossword, fill in words, wordsearch and a lovely picture to colour in.
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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