Talking Meaningfully About the Hard Parts of Easter

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This month’s Weaving Faith collection of resources is focused on how to tell the Easter story in age appropriate and theologically sound ways. As parents and Christian educators, many of us are wrestling with how to address the violence of the cross and with potentially harmful theories of atonement (reconciling or being “at one” with God). The resources and tips below will help us share the hope we have in Jesus Christ, the foundation of our faith, in thoughtful ways:

When to tell the story:

No matter what you have shared with families during Lent, some children will log-in/ arrive on Easter morning having not heard or connected together the stories of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection. Easter is an opportunity to bring the pieces of Jesus’ life into a more cohesive whole and meaningful narrative. 

I shared several approaches on When to Teach the Easter story at Building Faith. 

Here are three Easter Children’s Times Kathy Pittenger adapted one of them into this excellent Easter Children’s Message resource.

Looking for at home options? I collected this list last year.

How to tell the story:

When shared well, the Easter story equips us to make meaning over our lifetimes. What God does through Jesus Christ becomes the lens through which we see hope in the most challenging, gut wrenching experiences of our lives. Thoughtfully told, the Easter story becomes our good news and the ground of our faith. Whatever Children’s Bible or material you are using, I recommend the following tips shared in this previous post

  1. Previewing your materials ahead of time to look for Biblical accuracy and sound theology.
  2. Treat the violence carefully and age appropriately. Traci Smith lays this out very clearly here. It can be enough to say, “Jesus died on the cross.”
  3. Share the stories in context of the Jesus’ ministry and the Roman Empire. The World Jesus Knew: a curious kid’s guide is an excellent resource for middle to late elementary school ids.
  4. Ask open ended questions that allow children to make meaning for themselves. This intergenerational cross activity works well for families with children of many ages.

Don’t miss this conversation: A Better Way to Tell the Easter Story

As adults, part of providing spiritual safety is doing our homework before we crack open a children’s Bible or storybook with a child so that we can share the story appropriately. Author Daneen Akers is taking on the topic of atonement in conversation with Traci Smith and Herb Montgomery on Instgram -instgram.com/holytroublebook- this Thursday. I am confident this conversation will help all of us grow as ministers and leaders. See you there!

You might also be interested in:

This Palm Sunday Children’s Message using felt symbols.

My recommended books for Holy Week and Easter (This is an affiliate link for Bookshop)

My complete Lent and Easter Planning Guide subscriber download.

Using poetry to explore the meaning of resurrection with youth.

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