If you’re the parent, teacher, or caregiver of a school-age child, you know from experience that there are times when telling God’s story leads to conversations for which you feel incredibly unprepared. Those kinds of talks often begin with questions like “How did Jesus walk on water?” or “What did the animals eat on the ark?” and the query once lobbed my way during a reading of the Christmas story: “What’s a virgin?”
Equally unexpected was the question I was asked while reading the Easter story with my kids. As we came to the end of the story, my 5-year-old daughter looked up at me with tears streaming down her incredulous face and said, “So the Jesus who died on Good Friday is the same Jesus from Christmas?”
I don’t remember how I responded. Probably with a hug and an acknowledgment that “Yes, it’s the same Jesus” and “I know, it’s so sad” along with an encouraging “But he came back to life!”
I do remember feeling terrible, like I’d taken her innocence away. I certainly wished I’d been better prepared to respond. These are the things they don’t teach you in prenatal class.
So years later, I wasn’t surprised when a young mom approached me after a workshop on family faith formation and told me she was struggling with how to talk with her son about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Bible stories that feature anger, betrayal, pain, and grief aren’t easy to tell. As parents it’s tempting to pave over the potential conversation potholes that fill the pathway between Palm Sunday and Easter. But as Professor of Christian Formation & Ministry, Dr. Mimi Larson* points out, “These stories are essential in our faith formation. To understand the depth of Christ’s sacrifice and the amazing gift and power of the resurrection, the stories of Holy Week are essential. We must enter the darkness and pain of Holy Week to really understand the joy and light of Easter.”
Families need to spend time in God’s story. Our role as God’s family, the church, is to provide them with encouragement and support to do that well. That’s why I’m so excited about the family devotional resource God’s Big Easter Story: A Holy Week Journey for Families.
Using language that invites families into eight stories that begin with Palm Sunday and end with Easter, each of the devotionals creates space for meaningful, open-ended conversations between parents and children as they dwell in the stories together.
Equally exciting to me is that the resource is designed to be used by busy families in the ways that make sense for them. Kids will love the colorful symbols they can place on a pathway; parents will love the simple steps for each story: breathe, read, wonder, pray. And the encouraging introduction to families acknowledges that there’s no one right or wrong way to use the series: some households might read one devotion each day during Holy Week, some might combine a few devotions and read them over a few days; others might select just a few to read this year.
And my favorite part? Just like the awesome God’s Big Advent Story, this Holy Week Resource for families is 100% free!
As parents, we don’t need theology degrees to have faith-nurturing conversations with our kids. We also don’t need to have all the answers. What we do need is a willingness to wonder about God’s Story and a desire to dwell into it together. Faith Formation Ministries invites you to encourage and equip the families in your church by sharing God’s Big Easter Story with them this year.
You can access everything you need to download and distribute God’s Big Easter Story to the families in your church here.
*If you're part of a Christian Reformed Church, Mimi Larson is available to provide you with Children’s Ministry support (and it’s also free!). Contact Mimi at [email protected].