Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a group of middle school students at our church.
It was St. Patrick’s Day and I asked them who they thought St. Patrick was and what he did. The answers ranged from “leprechaun” to “pinching people when they don’t wear green” to “finding the pot of gold.”
Needless to say, that made it pretty easy to segue into talking about what St. Patrick actually did to bring early Christianity to Ireland.
Now comes a little more serious question about how to communicate the message of Easter.
I’ve found in discussions with younger kids that trying to get explain what the Romans were doing in Jerusalem at the time and how that related to the religious establishment which disliked Jesus is awfully difficult to explain. Even the idea of resurrection easily conjures up visions of ghosts and goblins.
One humorous video takes a look at how Easter is seen through the eyes of kids – and even a few otherwise well-meaning adults – and how those perceptions are shaped.
The image of a baby sleeping sweetly in a manger, no matter how off-track compared to the reality of being born in a first-century grotto, is much easier to relate to kids than the image of Jesus’ life being drained out of him on a cross. So too, naturally, are eggs, sweet treats and bunnies easier images for kids to digest.
I don’t pretend to have a great universal answer. Much of it depends on age and when you feel as a parent kids can understand a deeper explanation. No matter what you decide, it’s important to keep the meaning clear to yourself.