How do we teach our children about the empty tomb without belittling it to spring-ish renewal and chocolate sugar highs?
I think Easter is trickier than Christmas. Why? Because 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. Either way, talking with them about Easter is important.
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 Sunday morning celebrations there is the darkness of death on Good Friday. (Called “Good” for various reasons—God did something “good” for us that day, yes, but the title is also a later evolution of “God’s Friday.”)
In our house we’ve always been honest about death. People die. And I think that it’s better for our kids to talk about this with us first rather than hear about it on a weird TV show.
Same with sex. Same with anything.
Here’s a sample conversation:
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. To show people what God is really like.
“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’s love is so strong it can’t be beat.
“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. This is only from one angle and there’s so much more to it. Easter is a glass prism held up to light, reflecting myriad meanings into our reality.
In what I wrote above I haven’t really addressed God’s plan, payment for sin, how we are taught (and exposed) through Jesus’ actions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, or how Easter is the decisive move in God creating a new heavens and a new earth.
But with kids you sometimes have to keep it straight forward while still honouring the complexity. One step forward is better than no steps at all (which is really a step backward.)
If you let it, Christmas can be about greed, and Easter can be about gluttony. Or, as parents, we can be the parents, be clear, 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.
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 love-explosion 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.