Talking to Our Children about Good Friday

This morning, on my drive to work, I had SPIRIT 105.3 on as usual.  Sometimes it falls into the background as I talk to my son during the morning commute, but suddenly it snapped back into the forefront as I heard Steve and Amy play the audio of a booming voice telling the story of the crucifixion.  About how they arrested, tortured, and buried my Jesus.  The voice said powerfully…but it was only Friday.  And then it promised…BUT SUNDAY IS COMING!

I was riveted, completely caught up in the moment when I realized my son was silent in the back seat.

“Conlan!  Listen to the radio – they’re telling the story of how Jesus died.” 

“I know!” he exclaimed. 

He was listening too.

I will be the first to admit that I struggle with how to talk about this beautiful faith with my son. 

I’m afraid to say too much, not wanting to scare or confuse him. 

I’m afraid to say too little, fearing that oversimplifying these beautifully complex, painful, and miraculous stories will turn them into trite and meaningless fairytales in his mind.

But I try anyway, fearing every time that I’m doing it wrong, but knowing that it is far too important to just stay silent.

This year, he is five.  He’s hearing more and understanding more.  He’s asking questions.  He is realizing the weight of what Jesus did.  We are talking more.

He is listening.

It has become a tradition in our Lifegroup to have a Seder dinner during Holy Week.  This year, for the first time, we included the children.  It was crazy.  What in years past had been a quiet and somber meal turned into a boisterous, movement-filled, noisy dinner.

But through it all, they heard the story of Passover.  Their daddies gently washed their feet.  They talked about the empty tomb.

They were listening.

After the kids were dismissed and the adults remained, we laughed at the chaos and reminded ourselves – As the years go by, they will remember this.  We tried, and it was not perfect.

But it was.

They were listening.

When the weight of this season, this day, this event, this sacrifice is so heavy upon our own hearts that we can barely comprehend it, how on earth can we begin to explain it to our kids in a way they can understand?

We cannot.  But we can try.  And though our words won’t be perfect, God will still use them.

Because they are listening.

Today we simultaneously reflect, remember, mourn, celebrate, and give thanks for the indescribable sacrifice on the cross.  For today is the day that they beat and buried our Jesus.

But at the same time we wait in eager anticipation of Sunday’s resurrection.

Because it’s only Friday.

Sunday’s coming.

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