It's great that the kids I pastor have been in church their whole lives. Well, sometimes that's a great thing. At other times, I fear that the stories of the scriptures are nothing more than fairy tales for these kids. Nothing more than a story they've been told their whole lives, just as they've heard stories about Prince Charming or Cinderella. I talked with Billy's mom today about how sometimes we don't even realize that's the case until you share the same stories with a kid who hasn't heard them before... and they stand in amazement. I spent a great deal of time thinking about that this afternoon and thought back to my experiences with the kids on Wednesday night or in Children's Worship on Sunday.
With my elementary kids, I sometimes tell a bible story and they look at me like, "So, what's the big deal?" Hey, kid! Did you HEAR me? Lazarus was DEAD. As in NOT ALIVE. And then Jesus brought him back to LIFE. Okay, so maybe you're thinking, "So what. Maybe these kids just know that there isn't anything that is impossible for God and they aren't surprised that Jesus was able to bring his friend back to life." Maybe. But I think it's something more. I think somehow to our ears, these stories sometimes seem stale--when really there is nothing stale about them. Hasn't that happened to all of us at one point or another? We forget just how powerful the God of the cosmos is.
If you know me, you know that of the 365 days of the entire year, Easter Sunday is my favorite day of all. There is NOTHING stale about Easter. So tonight at church, I prayed against the staleness. And God amazed me. The kids amazed me. We sat together in silence in a dark room, lit only by a few candles, and journeyed together through the story of Jesus' crucifixion, death, and burial. We imagined together what it was like to be there, taking part in it all... being a part of the crowd that was shouting "Crucify him!" One of the kids picked Barabbas out of the story and talked about how it would have felt to be set free even when he didn't deserve it. Another girl talked about how heartbroken Mary Magdalene must have been to see her friend put to death. The friend who had given her new life. Another little boy talked about how Pilate must have felt-- knowing he had sentenced an innocent man to death. Another little boy drew a picture of Jesus and a weeping crowd of people at the foot of the cross.
The kids had been confused as to why they had been instructed to enter our worship space in silence and were certainly confused about why the room was lit by candles instead of the overhead lights. But as the story continued, and we reached the part about Jesus' resurrection, their confusion started to disappear. The room got brighter as we talked about Christ defeating the darkness and Christ's power over death. As the room got brighter, their voices got louder, and one of the kids exclaimed, "So THAT'S why we have been sitting in the dark! It's because Easter is about Light! Jesus is the light of the world!" Then the rest of them understood, too. I think that tonight, the story of Easter was very fresh.
And that's a great thing. We are, afterall, Easter people.