The Orthodox Christian religion’s Paschal Vigil is filled with concrete images of joy and hope that parents can use to help their children learn about God.
Kids Reaction to The Eastern Orthodox Religion’s Paschal Vigil Service
The church service usually begins at 11:30 at night. Parents should judge whether or not each child will be able to handle the lack of sleep. Most kids will embrace the opportunity to be up late at night.
Teaching Children the Religious Symbolism of Light During the Orthodox Pascha Service
The church is dimly lit at the beginning of the service as it is meant to replicate the time of sorrow over Jesus’s death. The beginning of the service is solemn.
The Priest then lights a candle to symbolize Christ’s resurrection. The parishioners start lighting their own candles from the Priest’s as the priest chants,
- Come take light from Light / That is never overtaken by night / That we may glorify Christ / Risen from the dead.
The church goes from darkness to being illuminated by hundreds of small candle flames. The symbolism is overpowering. Kids love this part because they love to light candles.
How to Use the Concept of Light in Teaching Children Religion
Parents can teach children that taking their “light” from Jesus means following in his ways. That could mean loving one another, forgiving one another, or standing up for the kid in school who everyone is picking on. In so doing, kids can bring light to someone’s life, and indeed to the world. Children can learn that their actions have a ripple effect, as demonstrated by the candles in church.
The light from the candles can also be seen as the light of hope. When children are feeling down, and wallowing in it, parents can teach the skill of distraction: of finding some little flicker of hope or joy to focus on to help them get through. This could be something that children are happy about or looking forward to. Or simply the knowledge that God is with them.
Parents can remind children of the Pascha service, and how the whole church lit up from only one small candle, when each person made the effort to focus on the light.
The Eastern Orthodox Pascha Vigil Encourages Children to be Joyful
After the candles are lit, parishioners proceed around the outside of the church while singing. When the parishioners arrive back in the church the whole church has been transformed. All of the lights are on, there are flowers everywhere, candles are glowing, incense is flowing and the songs change from somber to joyous.
It is important for children to know that God’s unconditional love for them is like the bright, bright church they came back into during the Pascha service. As a result of the resurrection, they can always return to this brightness as they return to God.
Christ is Risen! Sharing the Joyful News with Children
Once the church goes from dark to light with the news of Christ’s resurrection, the priest and deacons repeatedly dart around the church shouting “Christ is Risen!” and the parishioners respond by shouting out “Truly He is risen!”
Children will get a big kick out of seeing the priest this way, particularly if the priest puts a lot of “umph” into it, as many of them do.
This reminds children of the joy that having faith in God is all about. The Eastern Orthodox religion teaches that God wants people to be joyful in their lives, with earthly things as well as spiritually.
Bringing the Joy of Pascha Home
Parents of young children can light candles at home and process around the house in the middle of the night or the next day singing one of their favorite Pascha songs.
Little kids will enjoy expressing their natural joy and love for God, and parents should encourage this. Teenagers, on the other hand, will balk. But that shouldn’t stop parents from doing it if they feel so inclined!
The Eastern Orthodox 40-day Lenten Fast
If the adults have taken advantage of the period of lent to help children pray more, go to confession, and feel the sadness of the crucifixion, the celebration of Pascha will be that much more joyful! The Lenten fast is similar to the Advent fast.
Eastern Orthodox Pascha 2009 is being celebrated on April 19 by churches following the new calendar, according to the Orthodox Church in America.
People who are not Orthodox can attend an Orthodox service, though they cannot receive communion. People can go online to find an English speaking Orthodox church in North America.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity Has a Great Deal to Offer Children
The Eastern Orthodox religion’s liturgical celebration of Pascha provides parents with wonderful opportunities to teach their children about God in ways that they can absorb and remember.
Rich in symbolism, the Orthodox rituals focus on appealing to the five senses, and recreating powerful experiences to help move people spiritually and emotionally.