When our moms’ group started back in 2014, this was actually the first Sunday we covered with “Bible Story Time,” our name for Mass prep with our 0-5 year-olds. That week, it was just me and my three (one still in-utero), and Shauna with her two (one still cooking).
For my kids, it was actually a home-altering lesson. Why? Well, we had hand-cut felt figures to help tell the story. They included a Jesus, a Lazarus, and of course, Martha and Mary. With all the zeal anyone might have when first starting anything he/she believes in, I had even made a list of 10 things to do at home to help bring the Gospel to life for all the members I expected to show up.
Anyway, I just happened to use pink on the Martha felt figure. Pink was my daughter’s favorite color. I remember her stroking the little felt dress over and over again. We kept the lesson alive at home, playing, “Lazarus, come out!” under a kid table draped with my son’s comforter. We each took turns being the different parts. A stuffed bunny of my sons happened to be nearby, and was dubbed, “Martha” for these reenactments. To this day, that bunny is still, “Martha bunny,” and I love getting to tell my kids why around this time every year.
Nostalgia aside, the craft for this set of readings (which you can find, of course on usccb.org) was refined over time. Anytime a reading came up where I needed to cut people shapes and then clothes for them, I cringed! I looked for anything to get me out of it. If I had had a Cricut back then, it would have been no sweat. What I landed on was a Halloween idea for making mummies. So, now we have Mummy Spoon Lazarus for Jesus to raise from the dead. Just get out leftover white plastic spoons from past gatherings, give them eyes and a mouth with a Sharpie, and you’re half-way there.
The only other step for Lazarus spoon is making facial tissue into thin strips. Wrapping him up will be up to the kids. While they do that, you can talk about how sad Martha and Mary were. You can even have the kids walk him around pretending he is sick, and have one of the moms “call” Jesus. Wait a little, looking out the door or windows for Jesus, and then have the kids wrap him up. Tape comes in handy at the end because the kids will get frustrated with kleenex that doesn’t stay put or comes untucked. Crepe paper, paper towels, or toilet paper work just as well.
Now that Lazarus is ready for burial, it’s time to make him a tomb. If you’re planning an empty tomb setup for Christ in a couple of weeks, you might want to decide who gets to use this tomb. This is my personal favorite, so I always hesitate using it for Lazarus. This idea came from one of my kids’ kindergarten projects. They were making different dwellings for a social studies unit in class, and came home with a simple paper lunch bag, twisted at the top and tied. A single hole was cut in the side for a door. Instantly, my mind jumped to tomb!
I made my own, folded down the twisted top, box taped it, and added a paper circle on a brad for a stone. Viola! Fits Lazarus Spoon (in size and craft material genre), takes next to no prep work, and moves! The kids always like it better when it moves.
While they play, “Lazarus, come out!” over and over, you can reflect on the beauty of this set of readings, even though many of us won’t see a pew this weekend. In fact, it seems extremely poignant given the current pandemic. We are all entombed, starring at everything that has brought us death – neglected chores, neglected relationships, neglected prayer life, overeating, over-spending and the clutter from it, discontent kids home from school – as we wait for COVID19 to slow. We have nothing to do, or so much less to do, that we can stare our shortcomings right in the face and decide whether to deal with them or not.
If Christ is about to call you out of the tomb, what do you hope He sees? Blurry eyes from binge-watching Netflix, or strong arms from lifting the burden of others? And do you think He’s going to go to the trouble of raising you from the dead if you’re not even going to try to look worthy? None of us deserve Christ’s Risen Life. He offers it to us as a gift.
In response to that gift, we’re meant to live out the Gospel message by caring for whomever and whatever God has put in our life. Eventually, we’ll get to leave all these things behind – when we’re called out of the tomb – but for right now, we can’t put off our responsibilities. No matter how many times we do the dishes or the laundry or the yard work; no matter how many times we read to our kids or instruct them in schooling; no matter how many times we stop what we’re doing to spend time with our husbands or talk to our mother-in-law, we have to keep doing it. Or we have to ask for help. Either way, being on top of the day-to-day makes us stronger and ready to face the bigger calls from God. Where is He calling you? Is your “house” clean enough to follow?
- 1. White plastic disposable spoon
- 2. 1-2 facial tissues, 1 piece of white tissue paper, or 2 ft. of crepe paper
- 3. 1 brown paper lunch bag
- 4. 1 brad
- 5. 1/4 sheet of black construction paper
- 1. Scissors
- 2. Box tape
- 3. Small hole punch or poker-ma-bob
- 4. Regular tape
To Make Spoon Lazarus:
- Using a permanent marker, draw a face on the business end of a disposable plastic spoon.
- Cut a Kleenex (or any other pliable, white-ish material) into strips.
To Make the Paper Bag Tomb:
- Open up a brown paper lunch sack and twist about 2" from the top. Fold over to the back and box tape in place.
- Using scissors, cut an opening 4-5" high in the middle of one side, starting at the bottom of that side.
- Cut a wobbly circle from black construction paper that is large enough to cover the bag hole.
- Poke or punch small holes in the bag and construction paper stone. Depending on the age of child you're working with, either leave the brad for them to thread through the two holes, or do it for them.
Instructing the Kids
- Introduce the kids to Lazarus spoon, and explain that he's sick. Show them how to have him walk around not looking so good.
- Pretend to call Jesus on your phone, and look for him.
- Look back at Lazarus spoon, and tell the kids the bad news that he's died. Show them how to wrap him up, explaining how they did this in Jesus' time. Use regular tape to secure the ends.
- Then, let them put in the brad for the tomb if it's not already done for them. Help them place Lazarus inside and close the stone.
- "Remember" that to call out to Jesus, we have to pray, not use our phone. Encourage the kids to get on their knees, too, and pray an Our Father or something else they'd recognize. Then, suggest that you read the story to find out what happens. Let them take Lazarus out when Jesus calls to him.