Keeping the Easter Story Child-Friendly

How would you characterize the Lenten story? Which of the following basic plots best fits the story? The Quest, Rags to Riches, Overcoming the Monster, Voyage & Return, or Tragedy?

One answer is that the Lenten story is circular, a good example of the Home-Away-Home narrative. It’s important for children to hear the whole story and to emphasize its circular nature. We use the Godly Play story, Faces of Easter with young children. It begins with Jesus’s birth, adding a new image of Jesus’s life each week of Lent. The final image is two-sided. One side is a very abstract depiction of death and on the other is the risen Christ holding the bread and cup. We talk about how these two things cannot be separated or pulled apart. Then we rearrange the images into a circle which reminds us that the story of Jesus does not end.

The Faces of Easter Story arranged in a circle.
The Faces of Easter Story arranged in a circle.

Tip:

Preview books and Bibles to avoid violent images and language. It is enough for young children to simply say, “Jesus died on the cross.” Older children can hear the text from the Bible which is often less graphic than children’s Bibles when it comes to the cross. Our Children and Family Ministry staff has a few recommendations for Easter picture books that share the Easter message in an age-appropriate way.

These Alleluia banners will come out again after Easter.
These Alleluia banners will come out again after Easter.

Tip:

Embrace the mystery and complexity of the story. One of the questions we ask children at the beginning of Lent is “How can happiness and sadness make joy?” During Lent we symbolically pack away the word “alleluia” until Easter when we joyfully shout it again representing how life holds both happiness and sadness. Through it all we are able to experience joy in the promise of “at-one-ment” or atonement with God and one another. Wondering together is a way to explore the rich mystery of Easter without needing to have all the answers.

March 20, 2024

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