In her very helpful book Sharing the Easter Faith with Children; Carolyn Brown shares a parent’s quandary, “I can manage Christmas, shepherds, wise men, a baby born in a barn?  No problem.  But, I do not know what to tell my child about crucifixion and resurrection at Easter.  I hardly know what to tell myself about it.” 

It’s true.  Maybe you can recall moments of deeper understanding of Jesus suffering and resurrection throughout your life.  It isn’t something we simply get…rather, I glimpse the deeper truth of who Jesus was and why he was tortured and murdered.   The disciples didn’t understand, Peter surely didn’t get it and even Jesus asked, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” So how do we share the depth, sorrow and joy of Jesus, life, suffering, death and resurrection?  You, who are teachers, parents and grandparents, know that you are always looking for new entry points into the life of Jesus.   Here are a few thoughts that I find helpful and if you have more you would like to add please give us your ideas on the Moravian Roots and Wings Facebook page:

  • Worship together throughout the whole church year.  Include your children in worship.  As they “overhear” the gospel they will grow in to a deeper friendship with Christ and will gain a richer understanding of his life.   Through the scripture story, song and prayer children they will pick up much of the “hidden curriculum,” even when you think they are not listening.  
  • Keep Lent.   Just as you do with Advent in the season of Advent leading to Christmas, (which is only about half of the time of Lent), Lent has a clear beginning, Ash Wednesday and a clear ending Palm Sunday.  These forty days in the wilderness, mark a slower season where we can grow spiritually as we journey to Jerusalem with Jesus.    Many Christians “give up something for Lent.”  One teenager decided to “give up” television, in order to “make space and time” for something more important. 
  • I invite you to try some new “entry points” if you haven’t before.  Try reading the Bible daily as a family.  Join together in some family rituals we suggest in Loving Hearts United, your Moravian family resource.   Pray as a family about where God is calling you to give.  For instance, is someone or some country heavy on your child’s heart?  Empower your children, (and yourselves!)  to give of yourselves by collecting a daily offering for the people who are devastated and living in their own wilderness. 
  • Try some new rituals, like “burying the alleluias,” or creating a Lenten box in which to keep a promise.  A young person in my congregation decided he wanted to feel what it is like to be a refugee in the wilderness, and to not have a place to lay his head.  So he made his Lenten promise to sleep on the floor for forty nights.  What a powerful learning for all of us!

You’ll find a helpful article from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., entitled “Talking with Children about Lent and Easter,” by Beth Herrintin-Hodge, on the Heartfelt web page. Here’s a longer version of the article as a PDF file.

I would also recommend three wonderful books, from our resource center to you.  They will help you look at entry points into Lent, Holy Week and Easter from a childhood developmental approach:     

For Parents, Educators and Pastors: 

Sharing the Easter Faith with Children, Helping Children Observe Lent and Celebrate Easter, by Carolyn C Brown, Abingdon Press:   Nashville, TN, 2005

For FamiliesLoving Hearts United, A Moravian Guide for Family Living, Interprovincial Board of Communication:  Bethlehem, PA, 2009

For Children’s Spiritual Formation Groups:

The Way of the Child, Helping Children Experience God, by Wynn McGregor, Upper Room Books: Nashville, TN, 2006

-The Rev. Lisa Mullen is the Director of Children and Family Ministries, Board of Cooperative Ministries for the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province.