Caitlin Kennell Kim, seminary grad, baby wrangler, ordinary radical, writes about the life of a convert in the Catholic Church and explores how faith and everyday life intersect.
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An Act of True Love
Using Disney’s Frozen to talk with kids about the Passion
Here at Casa Kim we have Frozen on the brain. We have the dresses. We have the dolls. We have the entire soundtrack committed to memory and at the ready for a spontaneous all ages, flash mob-style, no holds barred, highly choreographed musical extravaganza. Now that Holy Week is upon us and now that the Pickles Kim are big enough to have serious questions about what this journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is all about, I wanted to find a way to talk with them about the Passion that was 1) age appropriate, 2) would capture their imaginations, and 3) would help them to grow in love for Christ and for each other. This is where Frozen comes in.
Frozen is not, of course, meant to be an exposition on the saving power of the cross. As far as I can tell it’s a clever reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Snow Queen. But it has shades and hints of the story of Jesus. What follows are some ideas for conversation starters and activities to try with the little people in your life who might have big questions about what Jesus did for us and what it means for them.
Things to talk about
Use your own words to help little ones and not-so-little ones understand the story. You can probably come up with even more ideas than I listed here.
Let it go
In the movie, Elsa deals with a storm raging inside of her that causes her to feel alienated from those she loves most. She fears that she is a monster. It isn’t until Anna saves her by an act of true love that Elsa realizes the only thing that can calm this storm is love. No longer enslaved by fear and shame, Elsa uses her unique gift to bring joy and magic into her kingdom. She can now be the queen Arendelle needs. Only the love of Jesus (the one who loves us enough to die for us in the ultimate act of true love) can help us let go of our shame and fear. When love is allowed to calm our inward storms, we can use our gifts to spread that love throughout the world.
The stone-like trolls sing a fun song about how everyone is a bit of a “fixer upper.” No one is perfect, but love — the love of God and the love of our friends and family — can help us to be the best we can be. Love is transformative.
An act of true love
Anna was willing to sacrifice her own life to save her sister Elsa. Even after Elsa had seriously wounded her. Even after years of Elsa not responding to Anna’s attempts to reestablish their relationship. Jesus was wounded by our sin. He opens his arms to us, always ready to welcome us home even though we often run away from him. His ultimate act of true love saves us and reconciles us to God.
From barrenness to blossoming
When Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa, the younger sister turns into ice as she places herself between her big sister and the sword of her would-be assassin. Elsa collapses in an embrace of her sisters frozen body overcome with sorrow, grief, and gratitude. But Anna’s act of true love is more powerful than death. It turns the world from a cold, hopeless place into one blossoming with hope. Anna is not dead! Jesus’ puts himself between us and everything that threatens to separate us from God. When we look at the cross, we feel sorrow, grief, and gratitude. Jesus has defeated death! He breaks through the cold, desolation of sin and brings eternal life. He makes all things new!
Things to make and do
Round ‘em up
Host a Frozen playdate at your parish or in your home. With a little luck you might be able to snag a copy of the movie at your local public library. Use the conversation ideas above to talk with the kids about how Anna’s sacrifice for her sister shows us how we are called to imitate Jesus in our own lives. For older kids, see if anyone can catch the saint who makes a VERY brief appearance in the movie. Pick a small prize for the winner!
Fixing broken hearts
Use this tutorial to make Scandinavian heart baskets out of poster board or construction paper. These baskets usually adorn Christmas trees in Anna and Elsa’s part of the world. Holding the two pieces of the heart before they are woven together, talk about how Jesus can heal our hearts when they feel broken by sadness or by our own bad choices. Demonstrating how the pieces come together, open the basket and show how a heart healed by Jesus’ ultimate act of true love has lots of room inside to love others. These make perfect Easter baskets.
Using brown paper grocery bags, poster board, Burger King crowns (they’ll probably give you a stack for free!), or whatever you happen to have on hand, try helping the children make these double-sided Crowns of Thorns/Crowns of Glory. One side shows the crown of thorns Jesus wore on Good Friday. The other side shows the crown of glory Jesus wears in heaven. As daughters and sons of the King of the Universe, we are true princesses and princes. Jesus shows us that true royalty means laying our lives down for our friends. Princess Anna lays her life down for her sister. She is a true princess! The double-sided crowns remind us to live as Jesus did, as servants on earth so we can be crowned as faithful daughters and sons in heaven.
Have fun! Let me know if you have any other ideas… I love stealing hearing them! Blessed Holy Week to you and yours!