Easter bunnies, candy, eggs…where is Jesus?
I got to spend Easter morning with a group of delightful preschool and kindergartners. They were all full of energy and excited to be there. When they entered the classroom they got to watch a puppet show about an adorable beaver, Mr. Brown. After that I sat down with the kids to talk about Easter Sunday. When I asked them what makes Easter so special. I was surprised at all the words I heard “Easter bunny”, “egg hunts”, “candy”, even “presents”!
After some prompting from me, one girl told me that we are celebrating that “Jesus died on the cross and rose again.” I don’t know why I was so surprised. Maybe it is because I spend two years working with preschoolers in a public school, so we couldn’t talk about anything Easter related. But it got me thinking and wondering when we are competing with Easter bunnies and candy, how can children get the greater message of what Easter is about?
Well, my solution this Easter was not the best one. I tried explaining what is so great about Easter and comparing it to the story we just heard from Mr. Brown. It was way too confusing for preschoolers….even older kids! Though I don’t think it was a complete failure, in that part of passing on the faith is sharing the story and passing on the language of faith, even when the concept may be too hard for a young child to understand.
I am not one to advocate for no Easter bunnies and no Santa Clause, though I might choose to do that when I have my own children, but I don’t think it is necessary. When it comes to the Christmas story children can easily and readily articulate the story of Jesus’ birth. But that is something they understand, they have all celebrated a birthday, heard a story of their own birth, watched as their mother grew with a baby inside her, and heard a baby cry. However, the Easter story is quite different. Raising from death is not something that we experience or have seen, let alone can really understand.
That said, how to we pass on the story of Easter? Maybe make it more about Jesus’ act of victory and love, than about the story. Think about what traditions or rituals you can add in your home, along with the Easter eggs and bunnies, to get kids just excited about Jesus.
-Get a butterfly garden every year and start in on Easter.
-Make heart shaped pancakes. Why are they heart shaped? “Because Jesus love us!”
– Make an Easter scene like a nativity scene, except with a tomb, a rock to roll over the front of it and a figure of Jesus. On Good Friday you can put it up with Jesus in the tomb. On Easter Sunday hide Jesus somewhere around the house. Have the kids roll the rock away to find Jesus isn’t there. Then everyone can go on a hunt to find where Jesus is in the house.