Dealing With Children's Hard Questions

February 27th, 2013

The Lenten and Easter seasons are the most holy seasons we celebrate in the church. Each Sunday is cele­brated as a "little Easter." We call ourselves "Easter people." We deco­rate our homes and classrooms with butterflies, eggs, chicks, and bunnies. 

Why is it then that we hesitate to talk about, explore, and wonder with children about the meaning of these most sacred seasons? Could it be that we simply don't want to deal with the hard questions children ask us about death, resurrec­tion, and new life? Could it be that we are unsure of our own answers to these questions? Do we have hard questions of our own about Lent and Easter? This time of year can be the most meaningful time we celebrate with children.

Children do ask difficult ques­tions sometimes. Yet each and every question is important. The child may not even remember the answer. But the child will remember you, your relationship with him or her, your special way of making that child feel important and valued. We adults don't have all the answers. We should not pretend that we do. But we do need to learn to feel comfortable wondering with chil­dren about the questions they ask.

Some Basic Information

You can begin to explore these holy days with children by having at hand some basic information about Lent and Easter.

Where can I read about the stories of Lent and Easter?

The stories can be found in the New Testament of the Bible in Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, and John 18-19.

Why is Easter celebrated on a different day each year?

Since the year 325 the date for Easter has been set on the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox (the time in spring when day and night are approxi­mately equal, usually March 21).

Why do we call it "Lent"?

Lent comes from the Old English word lengten, which means the time when days lengthen. That is exactly what happens during the spring. Lent has been set aside as a time for preparation and remembering.

How many days are in Lent?

Lent lasts for forty days and does not include Sundays. Sundays are counted as "feast days" not "fast days." Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

How did Ash Wednesday get its name?

Early Christians believed they could make peace with God by burning a sacrifical offering. They thought the rising smoke of the offering would reach God. The ashes, were placed on their bodies to show others they were sorrowful. On Ash Wednesday some ministers make the sign of the cross with ashes on people's foreheads or hands to remind them that we are beginning the Lenten season. In many churches the palm branches from the previous year are burned and used during Ash Wednesday worship.

Why are palm branches used on the Sunday before Easter?

This Sunday is known as "Palm Sunday," and it begins Holy Week. It is the day we celebrate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The crowds began to cheer and shout Jesus' name. Some people took their coats and waved them in Jesus' honor; others made a carpet of their coats for Jesus to walk on as he entered the city gates. Some traditions hold that the really poor folks who had no coats to wave cut palm branches and waved them in honor of Jesus!

Why did Jesus die?

Jesus died because the leaders of his day did not understand his message or his purpose. They were looking for another kind of ruler, and Jesus was a threat to them because he wanted to share love, not power. Jesus died because he loves us, you and me.

Did Jesus choose to die?

Jesus chose to submit to God's will, and that finally meant his death. God did not put Jesus to death. The people did. The Bible tells us that there were many people who did not like Jesus and did not understand his teachings. These were the people who asked for his crucifixion.

What happened to his body?

We learn from Scripture that when Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea took his body down, wrapped it in cloth, laid it in a tomb (probably a cave), and sealed the doorway with a rock. When Mary went to the tomb later, his body was not there. In fact, Jesus appeared to many of his disciples after his death (see John 19:38-21:25).

Why do we call it "Good Friday"?

This is the day that we remember the death of Jesus. It is a day of mourning for Christians. There have been many thoughts about the word good. Perhaps it is because of the gift of salvation, or it could really have been intended as "God's Friday." Whichever definition you choose, it is a day for us to join in worship together!

What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means mandate or command. We come to church as Jesus commanded to remember through Holy Communion the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples before he was arrested and put to death (see Matthew 26:17-29).

What is Easter?

Easter is the most important day on the Christian calendar! It is the day we celebrate the empty tomb. It is the day we celebrate Christ's resur­rection.

Remember As You Plan

We want to help children and their families internalize this information about Lent and Easter. We want it to become a part of their very being! Lent and Easter provide children with hard questions! Plan to explore the answers and grow in faith together!

comments powered by Disqus