Each day during Lent, I will be updating my blog around the theme of WIGIAT? or Where is God in all this?
Yesterday, I was invited to talk to our wonderful preschool about Easter. I enjoy going down there and interacting with the children, and I had done a little talk with them about St. Francis and also about Christmas. Now, talking to children about how much God loves all the animals, or using a Nativity set to share the joy of little, baby Jesus coming into the world is pretty easy. Talking about Easter on the other hand, provided me a little bit more of a challenge.
I floated my first idea past the preschool staff, but for some reason they didn't think using a doll and a wooden cross and some ketchup packets to reenact the crucifixion scene was a good idea. So, in the end, I tried to avoid touching much on the death of Jesus at all, brushing past it with a metaphor about toys running out of batteries, and then getting batteries that never run-out. Also, I used the imagery of a butterfly, and the flowers of Spring, etc. We said a short prayer together, I handed out a coloring sheet, and thought we were all in a pretty good, happy, Easter place.
Then, one of the 4-year old children asked, "If Jesus gets to come back to life, why don't other people who have died?" When the young boy asked me this, I wasn't so quick with a response, and probably had a lot of mmmsss and ahhhss as I tried to find just the right words. The boy was patient, and listened, and seemed to accept my answer that while people who have died stay alive in our memories, God brought Jesus back to life so that we could always know God loves us. God didn't need to bring everyone back to life, (at least as we know it anyway) to tell us this, but God does promise us that those who have died are with Jesus, just as we will be someday too.
Then, there were a couple of other great questions from other children; "Who will God take care of once all the people have passed away?" and "why did Jesus have to die on a cross?" And one little girl said, "My Grandma died last year, but she's still living in my heart."
God, was in these children, and their questions, and acknowledgment of death. Sometimes, we try to hide children from these things, but saying someone has died is much more tangible for a child, and all of us for that matter, then not acknowledging someone's absence, and the hole they've left in our life.
Yet, we often approach Easter, like we approach children, and each other. We celebrate the new life, without acknowledging the death that occurred. God is with us in the Easter promise not just to help us move on from our grief, but to help us walk boldly into our losses, our heartaches, and our sorrow, with the promise that the loved ones we grieve are not burdens to carry, but joys to bring into a changing world. Thank goodness for Children, who can courageously help adults face our mortal lives, and thank goodness for Jesus, who gives us the promise of new life in these children, and in each other.
And, as I was leaving, one of the children came to me and said, "I think Michael Jackson has new life." I replied, "Sure, and his music is still around for us to listen to." He said, "Yeah, like Thriller!" It didn't dawn on me until today, that maybe he'd actually seen the video, and had the image of all the zombies dancing around in his head....