Each year, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, holds a Lenten Lock-In on a Friday night during, you guessed it, LENT! The church school department of this lovely seaside congregation is small but mighty. There are some disadvantages to having a maximum of 15 children in the entire Christian Education department, but there are many pluses as well. Smaller numbers enable some programming that would be too cumbersome with larger groups. For example, the Lenten Lock-In is open to children from second grade on up. Since the program is small, the children know each other well and they get along like family (in a good way, most of the time). There is plenty of adult supervision and the mix of ages has never been an issue.
The program for the evening includes a variety of crafts, games and activities each year. Snacks are served. Children get ready for sleeping bags and a movie is shown. Most of the children are asleep by the time the final credits roll.
One year, the group made Empty Tomb Cookies. They made the cookies in the evening, and discovered their sweet surprise before going home in the morning. Here is the recipe:
EMPTY TOMB COOKIES
Ingredients and Needed Items:
1 cup whole pecans
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
duct or wide masking tape
Place pecans in zipper baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. After Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.
Invite the children to smell the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon vinegar into mixing bowl. When Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
Ask a volunteer to add the egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read I John 3:16.
Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Taste it and also put a pinch into the bowl. This represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27a.
Ask a volunteer to add 1 cup of sugar. The sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
Take turns beating with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. The color white represents the purity in God's eyes, of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 & John 3:1-3.
Fold in broken nuts. Take turns dropping batter by teaspoon onto wax paper or parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. With tape, seal the oven door. Jesus' tomb was sealed.
Leave the cookies in the oven, or tomb, until the next morning.
The next morning, open the oven and take a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.
The boys and girls at the Lenten Lock-In enjoyed this interactive activity immensely, and will no doubt help them to remember the details of the Easter story.