Monday, March 16, 2015

Preparing Our Kids for Easter

Last year I shared the following article in our April Newsletter. In preparing our kids for Easter 2015, I thought it was worth repeating. From "Sharing the Easter Faith with Children” by Carolyn C. Brown this article helps parents, grandparents, and children’s leaders better explain Easter to our children.

 A good starting point is to realize that Easter is bigger than any of us ever fully understand so we do not have to know all the answers. (big sigh of relief). NO one ever does. Easter is new life, an empty tomb, forgiveness, resurrection and more. That is not something to understand. It is a reality we have to grow in to. The truth is that we understand different aspects of Easter better at different times of our lives.

 Adults respond enthusiastically to the Easter claim and promise of victory over death because the reality, especially the finality of death. Children however, have a hard time grasping the reality, especially the finality of death. Even after attending Granddad’s funeral a young child will often ask, at unexpected times, when Granddad will be visiting. This natural inability to grasp the finality of death is supported by fairy tale princesses who awake after “sleeping” for years and cartoon characters who, flattened by steamrollers, peel themselves off the road. Given all this, it’s not surprising that children can’t get too excited by victory over death.

 Many books and people, and I’m afraid I must admit that I have tried to get around this by focusing on new life, paying attention to eggs, bulbs, and butterflies as new life symbols. I have found that while children are vaguely interested in these symbols, “New life” strikes few of them (for whom all of life is “New”) as particularly significant or exciting.

 What I have learned this year in preparing for Easter is that for younger children, the empty tomb is the ultimate victory of the good guys (God/Jesus) over  the bad guys (Judas, the priests, Pilate, the soldiers). On Good Friday the bad guys thought they had won. They killed Jesus and sealed His body into a guarded tomb. On Easter morning, God/Jesus blasted right out of that tomb and proved one and for all that God is more powerful than even the worst evil the worst bad guys can inflict. The natural response to such a victory is to yell “hooray for God and Jesus!” and to celebrate belonging to God who is the most powerful power there is in the universe!

 To older elementary children, who are focused on friendships and have clear expectations of “best friends,” the most significant resurrection story is the story of Peter’s breakfast conversation with Jesus (John 21:1-19). Peter had been Jesus’ best friend. He had promised to stick with Jesus no matter what. And he had been caught three times on the same night pretending he did not even know Jesus. As a betrayed “best friend,” Jesus would have been justified in ignoring or punishing Peter of his denials. But Jesus did not. For Peter, the resurrection happened when Jesus forgave him, welcomed him back as a friend, and put him to work building God’s Kingdom. For older children, Easter holds the promise that Jesus will forgive them and welcome them back when and if they betray their friendship with him. Such Easter forgiveness is worth celebrating!

 One final reminder – remember the starting point of this article – Easter is bigger than we can understand. We probably do the most harm when we fail to talk with our children about our Easter faith out of fear that we will not get it right."

 May we use the remaining days of March to prepare ourselves, our hearts, our homes, our church, and our children for the wonderful celebration of Easter.

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