I was chatting with a parent this week. She wanted to be thoughtful and faithful about it. Yes, the Easter bunny is around. But how do we go deeper? How do we teach our children about this founding event of the empty tomb without belittling it with just chocolate and sugar highs?
Christmas is easier. It’s profound but also simple: It’s Jesus’ birthday. We get that. “Happy birthday to you.” Candles. But Easter is trickier. Why? There’s murder, death and a corpse that starts breathing again.
My kids are young, but these are the conversations I’m already having. Maybe your kids are a bit older. But regardless of age, talking with them about Easter is important. Here’s why:
You have to be the one to set the agenda for your family.
If we don’t talk to them about the real meaning of things, someone else will. So how do you talk about Easter?
Before the joy-bursting exuberance of Easter morning there is the darkness of death on Good Friday. In our house we’ve always been honest about death. People die. But I think that it’s better for your kids to first talk about this with you than hear about it on some weird TV show. Same with sex. Same with anything.
Jesus didn’t do anything wrong but he died. “Why?” Mean people wanted him to die. “Why?” Because he wanted to change the world to make it a more loving place. “Why did they want him to die?” Because they didn’t want things to change; they liked having things their way. “What happened?” After he died, God brought him back to life! So Easter is about Jesus being alive again! God can do anything. “Will I die?” Yes. “That makes me sad.” I know. But if we love Jesus, we can live forever too.
This is simplified, I know. And there’s so much more to it. I know that as well. Life in Jesus is so deep and mind-altering. In what I wrote above I haven’t really addressed God’s plan, the punishment of sin or a host of other things. But we need to take one step at a time.
If you let it, Christmas can be about greed, and Easter can be about gluttony. Or, as parents, we can be the parents, be as clear as we can, and be teachers that these are God celebrations. About his ginormous death-defying love.
From a very early age kids learn from parents what is important. They learn it because it comes from our mouths and is reflected in our lives. If we avoid the tough conversations they will learn instinctively to distrust us. Next thing we know they won’t call when they’re 16 and in a serious jam because they can’t trust us. Why? Because we never spoke “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). If our celebrations are thin, does that mean our character is thin? Cracked-open Easter eggs can also represent the empty tomb; flowers can represent God’s ability to renew all things time and time again; and a sunrise on Sunday morning can be about a Son-rise on the day everything changed.
So have a wonderful Easter! Jean Vanier, someone I would call a modern pioneering poet of the kingdom of God, said that none of us have to be saviours of the world (thank goodness!)—“We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together to change our world one heart at a time.”
Why not start with ourselves and our children.
Picture: Johnny Automatic [Public domain]