Guest post from author Kathleen Long Bostrom.
Easter is the most important day of the year for Christians. As Christians, we believe that Jesus was crucified, that he rose from the dead on Easter, and that he is alive today. Easter is the foundation of our faith.
Easter was an experience before it was an event. Those first believers who faced the empty tomb could not help but need to tell this incredible, unbelievable story. They were commanded to share this with others who were not at the tomb, to follow the command of the angel to “go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.'”
Crucifixion and resurrection are difficult concepts to understand, for adults as well as for young children. Included in the challenge of teaching children the Easter story is the fact that sometimes, adults are uncomfortable talking with children about death. But children will learn about death and dying from one source or another (TV, friends, school) and it is best that they learn from the adults who are most important in their lives. Don’t be afraid to talk about death, to let your child guide you as to what he or she is able to handle. Remember that death is a normal part of life, not an aberration. Learning to be comfortable talking about death in our daily lives.
Use these three steps when sharing the Easter story with young children:
1. Keep it Simple
Keep it simple: Jesus died, but God raised him from the dead. This is the good news that we share as Christians. Jesus is alive now, and is our friend and Savior. Jesus will never die again – he is alive for all time. Because God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him eternal life, we, too, will live with Jesus and God in heaven after we die. Heaven is a beautiful place and there is no sadness or pain or sickness there. Heaven is our hope as believers in Jesus Christ.
2. Focus on Joy
Young children do not need all the details. Crucifixion is gory, and the details of death by crucifixion are terrifying for children. The details are terrifying for adults, too! As children grow, their comprehension becomes more sophisticated and they are able to understand more complicated concepts. For now, it is enough to say, “Jesus died on Good Friday. Everyone who loved him was very sad. But when they found Jesus alive on Easter morning, their sadness turned into joy. Jesus was alive again, and he is alive today.”
3. Tell the Story All Year
Easter is essential to the Christian faith. It need not be told only once a year. Even during Lent, when we have forty days of penitence and preparation, we exempt Sundays from the countdown. Every Sunday is a “mini-Easter” in the sense that our focus is on resurrection and the grace of God in Christ. For that matter, every day should be Easter, for as Christians we live in the promise of Jesus always, not just on occasion. Tell the story all year long. It never grows old!
And don’t worry about including more secular traditions with children during Easter. There’s nothing wrong with coloring eggs, having Easter baskets, enjoying a chocolate rabbit or some jelly beans. As long as the focus is on Easter being the day that we celebrate Jesus, the rest of the secular traditions are not going to supersede the truth of our belief. A good way of combining the sacred and the secular is to include a “resurrection egg” in your child’s Easter basket or egg hunt. This is an empty, plastic egg, simply decorated if at all. There is nothing inside the egg, which might seem like a disappointment. Yet the egg represents the empty tomb, and the surprise and joy the women and Peter felt when they went to look for Jesus on Easter morning and instead found that he was alive again. Make the resurrection egg the most important in the Easter basket, and consider keeping it in a prominent place all year long as a reminder of our Easter joy.
Kathleen Long Bostrom is the author of
Easter Stories and Prayers
and several other books in Tyndale’s Little Blessings line. You can visit her website at
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