Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Easter doesn't end in darkness

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.

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Nina said...

This has totally made my day!!!

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!"

I'm going to start helping out with the worship team for our kids' ministry and lemme tell ya...
1. Me + kids = awkward
2. Me + kids + Jesus = ???

So to read this post is super duper encouraging as I'm sure the experience was for you!

TheMartins said...

Totally make me start crying sitting here at work. Wow. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story Kelly!

jb said...

absolutely incredible; that was a blessing to read, thank you for sharing

Jeremiah said...

That was amazing.

That brought me to tears.

That it was the "faith like a child" kinda experiences are all bout.

You are an amazing children's pastor.

The tomb is empty.

He is risen.

Thank you for reminding me friend.

Chris said...

It doesn't help that scripture is so understated about everything. "And then this happened" isn't ever followed by a graphic description, and those little stick figure pictures they give aren't that helpful either.

But I did have it happen once that the kids realy amazed me. I taught a 3 and 4 year old sunday school class with my wife for a few months once, and one sunday we were told by the children's pastor to teach the first half of the story of noah's ark. So we did. And that was a mistake, because we had them do the little boats in water, and talk about what floods are like, and everything was great until it started thundering and lightning outside. And then the tears came. These twelve little kids were freaking out because they thought that God was going to flood the earth again right then and there - they hadn't heard the end of the story yet. So we told them, though at that point it was more of an exercise in consolation than in teaching.

Vicki Small said...

Beautiful story! Thank you, so much! And, Nina, I'm with you: I feel/am so awkward when I try talking with children. How odd, then, of God that He should have called me into a ministry of advocacy for children, especially those in extreme poverty. His ways certainly are mysterious!

Btw, Martha P. sent me the link to this blog and post. I'm now bookmarking it so I can get back here easily.