Alison Faison

Making Room for Lent and Easter

Walking with children through the dramatic stories of Holy Week can be exhausting, but also connective. The book, Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter written by Laura Alary and illustrated by Ann Boyajian, walks adults and young children through the first Sunday of Lent all the way through the tough events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and ends in the glory of the Easter story. She frames each event in terms of making space: in the Kingdom of God, in our hearts, houses, tables, and more. She addressed the people who did not want to make space for Jesus or his welcoming and just ways. When reading the Lenten story with 2nd graders or older, jump directly into the gospels in the bible. If you don’t have access to a bible, check and locate the CEV or Contemporary English Version for readability. It is good to navigate the chapters and verses with your child, so that they understand how to find passages in the bible. Start your reading journey on the first Sunday in Lent and explore until Easter Sunday.

We start Holy Week on joyous Palm Sunday when children wave palms and shout, “Hosanna! Save us now!” Adults know the dramatic irony that not all will welcome Jesus into Jerusalem during Holy Week. Children linger in the hope of the present moment. Jesus, riding on a donkey, is the one to be celebrated. Laura Alary asks, “I wonder who they thought Jesus was? I wonder what they hoped he would do for them?” Then we move into the trials that Jesus faces during the week. During Passover, Jesus invites his disciples to share a Last Supper as well as enjoy a loving gesture of washing the feet. Alary writes, “He [Jesus] pours himself out like water from a pitcher. He touches what is dirty and hurting and makes it clean and whole.” He reminds his beloved friends that he will always be with them in spirit. Then Jesus’ friends fall asleep and fail to protect him while in the garden. Jesus is taken away by soldiers. Good Friday scares us by its violence and saddens us by its sense of finality in Jesus’ death on the cross. Alary writes, “The cross is draped in black. The church is not dressed in purple anymore. It is bare and sad and full of shadows. Outside on the street I head people laughing and talking. It seems wrong. Don’t they know what has happened to Jesus?” On Holy Saturday we wait, make room, and wonder what it felt like on that early Easter morning for the women to find the stone rolled away from the tomb and Jesus raised from the dead. Alary exclaims, “Hallelujah! Jesus is risen! The colors of the sunrise spill over and splash into our church. Everywhere there are flowers and green leaves, beautiful banners and bright sunlight. The shadows are gone. Lent is over.”

Let us make room according to Matthew 25: feed the hungry, provide company to the lonely, and help those who are in unjust situations or have left prison. Calvary Presbyterian Church, along with a host of other interfaith houses of worship, is a Matthew 25 church as well as a Sanctuary church. We believe in connecting directly with people who want assistance, accompaniment, and acceptance. It is our calling to serve inside and outside of the walls of the church just like Jesus did in his walks through towns and cities. Let us make space in our lives by making it simpler if possible. Let us acknowledge things that we think are preventing us from connecting with God even though God is always present. Let us experience the joy of sharing with others and the peace of spending time alone in self-care.

More to Explore

Calvary’s 169 Years of Change-Makers

Occasionally I hear comments to the effect of, “Calvary’s recent highlighting of political issues can deter people from attending worship services.” My response is something like, “Since July 23, 1854, for 169 years, Calvary has been addressing human rights issues directly related to Jesus’ radical welcome. In 2020, we, along with many congregations across the U.S., became a Matthew 25 church that outwardly proclaims our commitment to feeding the hungry, clothing the unclothed, housing the unhoused, and loving those who are pushed aside and threatened by the workings of established societal systems.” In July 2021, I wrote a short children’s book called “You are a Calvary History-Maker.” I noted stories researched by Joe Beyer and information written in Carol Green Wilson’s book “Many Years One Message: Calvary Presbyterian Church: 1854 – 1979.” The opening line of my story is, “You are a Calvary history change-maker whether you have been sitting on the velvet sanctuary pew for half of your life or have only watched a few online services while sitting in your jammies on the couch this year.” The Protestant idea that we are the “community/priesthood of believers” gives us all permission to participate in our own faith-formation, as well as points to the responsibility to actively respond to our call. We don’t attend worship so we can watch the pastors and staff do community outreach. We attend worship to be inspired to courageously carry out the call of Matthew 25 into our relationships, work life, spiritual growth, and public action.

Summer with Children and Youth

Summer is a busy time for families as they shift from the school-year schedules to summer camps, programs, and vacations. How does church fit into families’ summer schedules? Many years ago, Calvary held summer worship services in the chapel and did not offer childcare. It was a time when pastors would go on study leave and vacations and folks would be out of town. It was a good time for families to sit together during worship. For almost ten years, we have had childcare open every Sunday throughout the year. We support families whenever they come to Calvary. Families have the choice to sit together during worship or walk their children to childcare and Sunday Studio.

More About Juneteenth

Join the Calvary Racial Equity Initiative (REI) Team after worship this Sunday, June 18, to celebrate our newest Federal holiday and the oldest known holiday that observes the end of slavery in the U.S. Enjoy Coffee Hour with treats from a local Black-owned business and information about Black heroes. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger announced that the enslaved people in Texas were free by the order of the president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1862. The Calvary church building will be closed on Monday, June 19 to commemorate Juneteenth. This blog will provide links to Juneteenth history resources and information about reparations. Amos 5:24 "But let justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry."