Beyond the Empty Tomb

By Christine V. Hides

Do not be surprised if older children begin to question the Easter narrative about the disappearance of Jesus’ body.  As pre-adolescents develop abstract thinking and reasoning skills, they may seek more scientifically plausible explanations. They may tell us they do not believe this part of the story. Our answers need to leave room for their exploration and doubt. Our responses need to assure them that what happened to Jesus’ body need not be the litmus test of living faith.

In Speaking Christian, Marcus Borg suggests an approach to understanding the Bible story that moves beyond “what happened” and instead focuses on “what does it mean?” “In the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus has two primary meanings: “Jesus lives,” and “Jesus is Lord.”

What does it mean that on Easter morning we proclaim that Jesus lives in present tense saying, “Christ is risen!”? The authors of the gospels recorded stories of Jesus’ presence in unexpected and unbelievable ways—like eating breakfast on the beach or walking the road to Emmaus.

We, too, experience Christ’s presence in our lives today. In the breaking of bread, in restored relationships, in freedom from the grinding expectations of work and school, and in countless ways both ordinary and extraordinary. Our young children understand this at the end of chapel when we put out the Christ candle. We are careful to use the words “change the light“ rather than “extinguish.” We pay attention to the smoke that rises and fills the room, symbolizing how Christ is with us in a new way.

For the rest of Eastertide (the 50-day season of Easter) spend some time each day talking with your children about their highs and lows. Ask, “Where did you sense God today?”

Talking about our experiences of God, large and small, takes practice and vulnerability. In time the daily ritual of asking these simple questions will become a habit of paying attention and thanking God for Jesus’s presence in our lives today.

After your conversations, please share a few of your experiences with me via email at Christine V. Hides. I will share these real life examples, anonymously if you wish, in our upcoming newsletters.

April 22, 2019

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