Let's Talk Easter!
Plus, a FREE Preschool Easter Story guide for you
Welcome to the Kids+Faith Newsletter. Each issue we dive into a parent question, a kid question, and talk about how to explore one Bible story with kids. Let’s talk Easter!
Today’s questions are:
From a parent: I’d love some guidance to help my sensitive 4 year old process the Easter Story Eggs that were presented to him at school. It was just a lot for the little guy.
From a kid: Why does God have to die? Like, what’s up with the death?
As for how to explore a story, I have a FREE Preschool Easter Story guide for you! It’s intentionally simple, fun, and written especially for very young kids. (Don’t worry, there’s one coming for older kids too!)
You asked: I’d love some guidance to help my sensitive 4 year old process the Easter Story Eggs that were presented to him at school. It was just a lot for the little guy.
If you’re not familiar with Story Eggs, each has an item inside that helps a child remember the Easter story, starting with the Triumphal Entry and moving to the empty tomb. There is a wide range of what gets said about the story, though, and they can totally be done in an age-appropriate way…. or not.
Here’s the key any time your child is presenting with a Bible story or theological idea that’s not a match for their age/temperament/developmental stage:
FAMILY CULTURE > CURRICULUM
Whatever gets ‘taught’ to them, you, as the family, have greater power than that lesson. So, using too-intense story eggs as our example, here’s what you can do with any situation like this:
Ask about how they’re feeling. “Hey kiddo, I was thinking about [that story/that thing auntie said]. How you feeling about that?” Be sure your voice is warm and easy (even if you’re frustrated with auntie), so the don’t think they did something wrong.
Your goal is to see what actually stuck so you know where to focus. Let’s say it was the egg with the nail inside and they say, “It just felt scary to say a nail was in Jesus’ hand.”
Keep it simple. Affirm what they shared, and then just name what needs addressing/correcting in a short, simple, matter-of-fact way.
Two phrases that can help:
“That story is really for older kids/grown ups, for the very reasons you’re noticing—it’s sad/confusing/scary, etc. Do you have questions about it? I’d love to try and help!”
“I know Aunt Tina thinks that. But lots of people who love Jesus think differently about this. I tend to think…”
So in our example, maybe it sounds like, “That would feel scary, and it’s sad that Jesus got hurt. That part of the story is really more important for grown ups. What matters most is to know that Jesus is alive.”
Without dismissing how they feel, give them permission to let go of that idea. You’re showing that in our family we explore our faith.
Assess: do they need a re-do? “Can I see the eggs? Let’s do the story together.” Sometimes doing a story over with new language can offer the replacement interpretation your child needs.
Not every kid or every topic needs a full redo, but it can be a chance to present more age-accessible language or a gentler tone. And of course, your redo can also happen at a different time if you need the chance to think about it ahead.
Your kid asked: Why does God have to die? Like, what’s up with the death?
Man I love age 9—they just get to the heart of it. When I answer this, I focus on this: Jesus could not have been faithful to his mission and lived. In order to bring about restoration of all things on earth through himself, the things he said and did inevitably mean he’ll be executed. Now, here’s how I put that in ‘kid-speak.’
“When God came in Jesus, he started saying and doing things that made people wonder what was going on: had God sent the rescuer God promised? Was Jesus totally out to lunch? One thing that was especially important is that Jesus said and did stuff that only God had the authority to do.
“It’s a little like this: What if a kid in your school went into the principal’s office and used the intercom to talk to everyone? They’re not supposed to do that, because only the principal uses the speaker, right? The principal has that authority and a student doesn’t.
“Ok, so when Jesus said things like: “God’s doing a new thing and you should join in” or “Your sin is forgiven”, and when he did things like heal someone on a special day for rest, while telling the religious leaders he was allowed to, some of them thought Jesus wasn’t just wrong, he was claiming God’s authority.
“Beyond that, the Jewish people lived under Roman rule. Rome was controlling and violent, and did not want people messing with how things worked. But Jesus was messing with how things worked.
“So if Jesus was going to keep doing what he came to do—showing us what God’s like—and if Jesus was going to keep saying what he came to say—that he had life to offer us, well, there was no way to do that and live.”
For us adults: N.T. Wright has a podcast and I just realized it and I’m so happy! Here’s an episode on this very topic.
Speaking of podcasts:
I was a guest on A Bigger Table podcast, talking about moving out of ‘good kid’ thinking and towards a better way.
My friend and fellow children’s pastor Laura and I created a podcast episode to help parents talk about Esther with their kids. What’s great is that what we do with Esther is an approach you can apply to lots of other stories.