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The following "symbols of Easter" list and discussion was provided by member/pastor Will Heyward, Smyrna Pres. Waynesboro VA

You may have many of these symbols around your church in stained glass or banners.

Some project ideas have been added to the end of this post.

Jesus used Symbolism --
He used symbolic images such as the Good Shepherd, the Door, the Vine, and the light; symbolic actions such as washing the disciples' feet and entering into Jerusalem; symbolic objects such as bread and wine.

There are three basic characteristics of all symbols:

  • First - the objects used have been given meaning beyond the literal meaning of the object.
  • Second - the objects are simplified so the viewer will not consider the object but the deeper associated meaning. However, people should never let the symbols become ends in themselves, or they no longer point to the reality which gives them meaning but become idols themselves.
  • Third - Symbols are born and die. They emerge and have meaning by pointing to the essence of the Christian message. Symbols die -- they lose their meaning and power to communicate. Symbols are a rich treasury of the Christian message. By using symbols intelligently, we have a meaningful and vivid communication of the Gospel.
  • What symbol did we just learn about last month in the story of Noah? Rainbow
  • What was the rainbow a symbol of? God's promise to Noah and us to never again destroy the earth with a flood.

    All of the Bible is Rich in Symbolism, and Easter is no Exception -- What is a symbol? The word Symbol is of Greek origin. Meaning to put together to join or combine. Webster defines symbol as a sign, something that stands for or suggests something else. A visible sign of something invisible. Today we will be learning about some of those symbols, which are found at Easter. As we talk about the Easter story and let's see what symbols we find. First let's think about the sanctuary and see what symbols we can remember which suggests this is the Easter season.
  • Color of the cloths - purple
  • Purple - Purple is a color that means being sorry by being hopeful at the same time. Lent is a quiet time -- a time to think about God.
  • Sign of Chi Rho on the pulpit cloth -- The Chi Rho monogram is made with the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ". It is the oldest Christian monogram and is sometimes called a "Christogram".
  • Holy Week - this is the week between the day we call Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. 
  • Maundy Thursday - We often have special services on this day. The word maundy comes from a word that means "commandment". On the night Jesus was arrested he said to his disciples: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
  • Good Friday - Often the church has special services on this day. The Friday that Jesus was killed was a very bad day. But now we know it was a good day! It was a day when God showed that God's love was stronger than death. It is a day to remember how much Jesus suffered for the world that God loved so much. You may wonder why the day Jesus died is called "Good" Friday. The day seems a lot more bad and sad than good. There is a reason. You see, if Jesus had only suffered and died, then that would have been really sad. There wouldn't have been anything good about Good Friday. But Jesus didn't just die. He also rose from the dead on Easter, and that is very good. If Jesus had not died for us on Good Friday, he could not have risen on Easter Sunday. That's what makes this Friday a Good News Friday.
  • Easter -- Resurrection Sunday -- This is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. He rose from the dead -- and with this comes the promise (covenant) with all people that if we believe in him we will have eternal life.

    Explain Symbols in very Simple Terms -- Show Picture

  • The Chi Rho - meaning "Christ, Peace" -- This symbol is made with two Greek letters put together.
  • The Crown of thorns - meaning "Passion and Crucifixion of Christ" -- This symbol is a reminder of the Crown of thorns they placed on his head at his trial.
  • The moneybag and coins -- meaning "Judas Iscariot" the moneybag symbolizes the fateful deed -- Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
  • The Lily - meaning "Purity, Easter, Resurrection" - The lily, pure white with a gold center. Sometimes the lily represents Jesus himself because he was pure and humble. The lily blooms at Easter and is a symbol of the Resurrection. (The bulb decays in the soil, producing a new bulb. Then a stem, leaves, and flower rise in glory above the dark soil, showing that the process of death and new life go together.)
  • Cock (Rooster) - meaning "Watchfulness, Wakefulness, Passion of Christ" - It is sometimes called the bird of dawn and is an emblem of watchfulness and wakefulness. When a cock is shown near the figure of Peter it reminds of the three times he denied having known Jesus.
  • Oak - meaning "Christ, Virgin Mary, Strength of Faith, Virtue". An Oak tree is solid and lives for hundreds of years through storms, drought, and floods. Therefore, the oak is a symbol of long-lasting faith and the ability to stand up against the storms and troubles of life. Some believe the cross was made of Oak.
  • Butterfly - meaning "Resurrection, Rebirth" - This is because of the three stages of life it represents - the caterpillar, the cocoon or chrysalis, and the beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar compares with the mortal life of people here on earth, and the cocoon with death. Then the butterfly bursts the cocoon of death and comes forth with a new body and beautiful wings in a glorified state to soar in the sky. Thus, human beings emerge from death into life everlasting.
  • Lamb - meaning "Christ is often referred to as Lamb of God". Made the supreme sacrifice for our sins. Lambs were often used for sacrifice.
  • Shamrock - meaning "Holy Trinity" - legend has it that St. Patrick from Ireland was near a meadow one day when some pagan Irish chieftains asked him to explain the Holy Trinity. One of the chieftains was angry because the idea of the Trinity (that three Persons could exist as One) seemed foolish to him. Patrick picked up a shamrock (a three-leaf clover) and said, "God is like this plant' this plant has three leaves and yet is one plant. So God consists of three Persons and yet is one God." We don't know if the story is true, but this has caused the shamrock to become one of the best-known symbols of the Trinity.
  • Peacock - meaning "Everlasting Life, Resurrection" - When this bird loses its feathers, it grown new ones more brilliant than the ones that fell away. (The life beyond this one will be brighter because of the risen Christ who has gone before.)

Teaching Ideas:

  • Make a mosaic of symbols.
  • Do concentration game -- match picture to explanation for older children.
  • Do crossword puzzle.
  • Make stained glass using markers and precut piece of plexiglass. Use emory cloth to smooth edges. Drill small hole at top for string. Draw on. Finish by cutting a slit in drinking straw and use to create border around glass by fitting glass into the slit-open straw.. Use a dab of instant glue to fasten the straw to itself and glass.
Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer
Original Post

Symbols of Holy Week Computer Lab Project

I was recently asked how to do "Symbols of Holy Week" in a Bible Computer Lab. I've done similar types of lessons, though never on this particular story. Here are my thoughts on that.

I'd do the symbols lesson in two stages, one visual using Kid Pix 4 (or 3-D), and the second as a "meanings" word search puzzle project. Hopefully you'll agree they work together.

  1. Using Kid Pix 4 (or 3-D) Software, have the kids create a "hidden picture" -- "Where's Waldo" type puzzle with each symbol embedded in the picture. After printing, the kids can exchange puzzles and solve each other's visual puzzles. (Visually, this will cement the list in their memory).

    The key here is to use Kid Pix's unique STICKERS feature, and its plethora of clipart to create a visually complicated drawing, and then have the kids embed (hide in plain sight like Waldo) each of the symbols into the drawing. In fact, some of the symbols have ready-made artwork in the Kid Pix sticker list. Print, share, solve.

  2. Create a Word Search of SINGLE WORDS which the teacher or students have created to define the MEANING of each of the symbols. For example, "coins = betrayal".... and the kids would put the word "betrayal" into a word search matrix.   If you own a Word Search program or use a free on-line version (do a google search), you can easily create this word search of "meaning words".  If you don't own a word search program, you could also have the kids CREATE their own word search in the following manner:  
    • Open a wordprocessing document and create a TABLE 20x20. You could then print that and have the kids fill it in by hand to create a wordsearch, OR, type in the letters using the computer.  Print, share, solve!

Here are the symbols/words given to me by the teacher. You could certainly add more:

  • Palm branches
  • bag of coins
  • cup and bread
  • towel
  • heart
  • praying hands
  • purple robe
  • crown of thorns
  • cross
  • nails
  • stone
  • empty tomb
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Last edited by Luanne Payne

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