Lent can be a difficult season to explain to children. It is much easier with Advent – we are getting ready for the birth of Jesus. Children can connect with that. It is fun and exciting and there are lots of neat things to get ready for. I find that Lent is harder with children.
How do you explain that we are getting ready for the crucifixion and then resurrection of Jesus? How do you explain that Jesus had to suffer death for the rest of us to a 5 year old? Especially when all they have ever heard from the church, their families and Sunday School teachers is that Jesus is their friend. Why would anyone want to kill Jesus? Jesus is the best person they have ever heard about.
Here is what I think we need to do about this. I think we need to be honest with our children. I think we need to give them the whole story of Jesus. Not just the parts that make us comfortable.
Jesus during his ministry made many people uncomfortable. He made the religious leadership uncomfortable. He made the political leaders uncomfortable. I think if he visited one of our parishes he would make us uncomfortable as well. The children we work with need to know that Jesus made and continues to make people uncomfortable. For some in Jesus’ day this discomfort turned into fear and they thought the only way to deal with it was to put him to death.
Here is my challenge for all of us through this Lent. When speaking with children about what has happened to Jesus. Let’s be honest. Let’s tell the children that people got scared of what Jesus was trying to do. Let’s tell the children that Jesus still makes many of us uncomfortable. Let’s tell the children that Jesus’ death is not the end-but that they will have to wait for that part of the story.
Let’s bring the children into this so important part of our story. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that is at the heart of the gospel and it is time for us to be honest with children about the core of our faith.