Today is Easter; a day, I would argue, in which we honor the most important moment in our faith story. In Easter, in death and resurrection, we have life! It is the pinnacle of our belief, where we stake our claim and find hope!
So… we have God, who created all things. And God decided to reveal God’s self to us through Jesus; through a human man, humbled beyond imagination through death on a cross, a servant to all through his life and his death. But the world betrays him; he dies and is raised from the dead so that the sins of the world might be forgiven?
Seriously. Deep stuff! And the source of many questions and arguments by theologians and leaders in the Church. As a parent, I see how heavy this is for a child to grasp – it is difficult for adults to understand! Sometimes it might seem easier to hide this Easter holiday behind bunnies and baskets and avoid the hard questions. But if you raise your kids in the church; if you desire that your children follow Jesus and seek the hope, peace and forgiveness that comes only from God, then you’ve got to talk about Easter!
Over the last 2-3 years, I have deeply enjoyed the conversations we have experienced with our kids about Easter. As they’ve gotten older, they ask deeper questions and seem willing to better understand our belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This allows our family (adults included) to dig deeper into what the events of Holy Week and Easter really mean some 2,000 years later, and how those events shape our life and our future.
My daughter is almost 4 now. This year, for the first time, we can sort of describe what is happening. She knows the Bible songs and that primary Sunday School message that Jesus loves. But we’ve taken moments throughout this week to say the words to her: Jesus died, but Easter means Jesus is alive! Yeah, comprehending how Jesus was both truly man and truly God, and then died for all might be hard. But with the simple words we share together – “Jesus is alive!” – she immediately expresses joy. Her belief is so simple, so pure – Jesus loves and Jesus is alive! What joy!
My 7-year-old goes deeper. I remember a conversation we had last year, shortly after Easter. My son has a tendency to tattle on himself; to mentally beat himself up for every wrong he commits. So we discussed sin – what is sin, is it possible to escape sin, what does God do with our sin? As we talked about our sin – and our inability to ever actually live without sin – I think my son understood on a personal level what the death of Jesus means for us.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:15,17,24-25
But then my son said “Jesus died to wash my sins away from last week. And he’ll die again to wash away my sins from this week.” “Oh, no!” I proclaimed. God came as Jesus and died and rose again ONCE for all sin! (And the seemingly impossible becomes even more impossible for our tiny human brains to understand…)
I’ve given this conversation with my son more thought as time has passed. With each sinful thought or action we have, for every time we experience separation from God, is that a little death and resurrection? Do the wounds on the hands and side of our Jesus tingle a little every time humanity fails?
This year my son has been engaged in the story – he’s read the Bible (because he reads now!), experiencing for himself the story beginning with the Last Supper through the Resurrection. He would ask on Thursday and Friday – “So what would have been happening now?” We talked through these events together, and we tried to place ourselves in the story. These conversations with my son were precious – a time for both of us to go deeper.
Each year we celebrate Easter, and remember as a community the sacrifice made for all. Each Sunday we experience confession, a little mini-Easter where we acknowledge our sin and offer thanks for grace freely given. Every day we have moments to talk about our faith, and live as a follower of Christ. All opportunity for conversation, and with it stronger relationship with each other and with God. I look ahead, eager for more conversation, more questions, deeper faith and stronger relationship for each of us!
He is risen! Hallelujah!