Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Deep thoughts about Easter

Easter is fast approaching. It’s funny; for some reason, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” got stuck in my head last week, and I was humming it. Marcus asked me what I was singing, which is nice, since sometimes he simply asks me to stop…and I was explaining the song, and singing the words for him. Then I felt bad because it’s such a stupid song. I mean, who can sing about a rabbit “hopping down the bunny trail” without feeling a bit foolish? And then I felt guilty because Todd and I really do want to rear a God-fearing, God-loving child and Easter is sort of the benchmark of the entire Christian faith—and here I was minimizing it by singing about some ridiculous phantom bunny.

So I tried to explain what Easter really is. I said, “Honey, Easter isn’t about a bunny at all. It’s about Jesus. Jesus died, but he came back to life on Easter and now He lives forever. Easter is a joyful time because Jesus is alive forever. We should sing a real Easter song.” And then I sang “He Lives” for the kid (well, I sang part of one verse because that was all I could remember—yeah, I stink). Not long after that, maybe the next day, I was absent-mindedly humming the stupid bunny song again and my sweet, wise son reminded me that Easter wasn’t about a bunny; it was about Jesus. So true. I agreed wholeheartedly and, quite literally, changed my tune.

But oh, out of the mouths of babes: a few days later as we were driving, my sweet boy asked me the following very tough question: “Mommy, why did God have Jesus?” I kid you not. This is what he asked me. I even had him repeat it to be certain, and then I said it back to him to be doubly sure. And that was honestly what he’d asked me. Now, how do you answer that? He’s going to be three years old next week. Three. How would you respond?

I tried. I said something like this: “Well, Honey, God made people. And when He made them, He gave them the ability to choose things. But we people didn’t make good choices; in fact, we chose a lot of really awful things. We made bad choices. And God was disappointed in us. So He sent Jesus, Who didn’t make any bad choices ever. And now since Jesus lives forever, He talks to God about us and helps God forgive us when we do bad things.” I know, horribly inadequate and terribly simplified, but he is still so little. I don’t want to overwhelm him with details, or with the truth about the suffering and crucifixion.

His reply? “Okay.” Which often sounds like “otay.” That was it; he hasn’t brought it up since. And yes, for all you people who are worried, he’ll still get an Easter basket. He’ll get plenty of sugar and cute things and eggs to find on Easter morning. But hopefully, he’ll remember this short little discussion in the car. My prayer is that he’ll be joyful not thanks to a sugar high, but because he has Jesus to talk to God about him. A 3-year-old may not need that intervention yet, but if he’s anything like the rest of us, he will. Oh, he will.

I pray the same prayer for myself: joy and gratitude all mixed up with a side of chocolate.


Facie :-) said...

A few weeks ago, while coming up on about 1.5 hours in the car with Jordan during a snowstorm, some guy in an SUV was tailing me. I was frustrated/nervous, so I said, without thinking, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" No sooner had I said it, did Jordan say, "Mommy, I know Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Baby Jesus, and Mary his mother. And Joseph!" I told her that I should not have said that (and I so rarely swear like that, which made it worse). But then she went on to sing, "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" a few times. She has maybe brought it up one more time since, so hopefully that was the end.

I guess I should be glad that she at least knows them (and I will be equally glad if she never sings their names together again). But I have to say, when I read children's Bible stories to her, I never mention Jesus' dying (or anyone else, for that matter). I am trying to avoid talking about death until I have to, but then she really is missing out on the whole story. I am sure she gets confused enough that in her books we go from baby Jesus to Jesus as a man. I guess I will just have to send her over to your house so Marcus can teach her!

Mel said...

well, don't send her yet--I'm not ready! I need a plan! I need direction! Marcus wouldn't have much to teach her yet, I'm afraid.

it is hard, knowing how much to shelter them, isn't it?

and WHY do they always hear and repeat what you don't want them to? I could say wonderful, sweet, innocent things over and over and it would come to nothing... but I slip up once and I hear it for days...