This morning I awoke in Kentucky to the sounds of thunder, lightning and torrential downpours. My phone was lighting up with flood alerts and I could hear what sounded like a small river in the gutter outside my window.
My first thoughts on this dark stormy morning were that it was Good Friday and how appropriate the dark weather was to experience on this day. My heart went to Mark 15 where we read:
“At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? “”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:33,34.37-39)
The sorrow of this day will be commemorated at churches all over the world with darkened services, candelight vigils, readings from Scripture that cause us to ponder anew the sacrifice made by Christ that day.
There is something palpable about the beauty and mystery of Good Friday. Sometimes, it is our tendency to shield our children from these dark emotions, from the sadness and the heaviness of the crucifixion.
I realize that they won’t understand it all. I know that it could make them sad. I understand that they are young. But the depth of understanding goes beyond our emotions on this day. When we allow ourselves to remember the darkness of this day, the sadness of this moment that, if we are truly honest, not one of us completely understands, we create space for God to do a deeper work that our minds can understand.
Children are young. Cognitively they don‘t understand. But their hearts are attuned to God’s love. Their understanding of spiritual things goes deeper than we adults sometimes give them credit for. Throughout Scripture, we are told that infants praise him, the faith of children is pure, little ones know him, and we should be like them. In children, the kingdom of God is made manifest so, trust me, they may not understand the theology, but they understand the heart of God and the love that was given.
Ever been outside when a storm rolls away and the sun breaks through?
Does it ever shine brighter in that moment?
On Good Friday, we experience sadness. But only for a moment. Because on Sunday we will experience unspeakable joy. No matter the depth of sorrow we feel on Friday, our rejoicing on Sunday will far exceed those limits. And if we want our children to truly know the JOY that is Easter, we must let them also experience the sorrow that is Good Friday.
It’s okay for them to feel. Feel with them. It’s okay for them to cry. Cry with them.
BUT, cry with hope. Feel with expectation. And Sunday morning, before eggs and bunnies and chocolate and flowers, before dinners and tulips and fancy dresses and suits and ties, before all of that… let them experience the OVERWHELMING, LIFE-CHANGING, HEART-POUNDING Joy of crying out, “He. Is. RISEN!!”
Rejoice! Cry out! Dance a little. Celebrate with your kids in a way you never have before. Let joy swell in your hearts and come out as shouts of praise. Let them experience all the wonder and mystery wrapped up in God’s love for us on these three days. Don’t let it just pass by unnoticed. Don’t let your fear of their sadness keep them from experiencing the immensity of Easter Joy!!
Make this day a day they will never forget and they will long to experience for years to come.
Make the words of Ps. 30:5 come alive this year: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning!”
For He IS Risen, just as He said! He is Risen.. Indeed!!
Looking for another way to bring Easter alive this year? Check out Practical Holy Week here!
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.