by Judy Ryan
Many years ago I was caring for my neighbor’s children, ages 3 and 5. I took them to lunch, then to the playground. As I was pushing them on swings, Lydia, the 3 year old, said in a very sad voice, that she missed her daddy. I told her I understood, but not to be sad because he would be home soon after we arrived home. Then she looked at me and asked, “Miss Judy, where is your daddy?” I explained that he had died and gone to heaven. She then asked, “Did he die on the cross?” Wow! Can you even imagine the reasoning of a 3 year old who knew her Heavenly Father had died on a cross, so all fathers in heaven must do the same? (Recognizing of course that her father is a Pastor, but still!) She said she would pray for him, another amazing statement from a 3 year old, and that night before bed she did in fact pray for my daddy.
Several years later I took my grandson to the doctor for his annual school checkup and booster shots. When the doctor left the room he asked me if the shots were going to hurt. I told him they should only be a pinch, but I wasn’t positive. He replied, “Well, if Jesus could bear the pain of dying on the cross, I guess I can handle the pain of two shots.” Another Wow! At 9 or 10 he understood the pain Jesus endured dying on the cross for our sins, and he realized any pain he experienced could never compare.
Ephesians 6:4 reads: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Mark 9:36-37 reads: He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Teach your child that Easter is the most important Christian holiday, celebrating Jesus’ return from death. The concepts of resurrection and life after death are fundamental to Christianity, so introduce them early in an age-appropriate way. And teach them the meaning of Lent. They may not remember everything, but you will be surprised at what they can learn and remember.
You don’t have to be a parent or family member to share your knowledge of Lent with a child. Find a time and place to share your love of Christ with a child, and what this season means to you. I challenge you to take part and not expect the church to do all the work. Think about what you know and understand and share that joy with a child, or group of children. You will experience God’s amazing love in the eyes of those children.