Here’s how to make your child understand the significance of Easter.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
While Christmas denotes the birth of Jesus Christ, Easter signifies his resurrection – how he came back to life after his death on the cross and burial in a tomb. However, the true meaning of Easter or Resurrection Day (which is, in fact, a more appropriate term to refer to the day) has been lost amidst rituals and traditions involving Easter eggs, bunnies, and so on. Therefore, here are some simple ways to impart the true meaning of Easter to your child.
1.Explain in simple terms the story of Easter. Here are important points to include in your narrative (which can be done through simple story-telling or with the help of picture books, films and videos):
• The birth of Jesus – how God sent his only Son to the earth to save mankind from sin
• The concept of sin and how it separates us from our Creator (with simple examples of wrongdoings)
• Jesus’ life and ministry on the earth – highlighting his miracles and parables, and stressing on his compassion and love
• Palm Sunday – the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when people laid carpets of palms and clothes on the ground before him as if welcoming a king
• The Last Supper – the significance of the Holy Communion; how the bread and wine symbolise the body and blood of Christ that he sacrificed on the cross for us
• Good Friday – how Jesus died on the cross taking upon himself the sins of the world
• Resurrection – how Jesus came back to life on the third day after his crucifixion and burial
• Salvation – how Jesus’ death and resurrection redeemed mankind from sin
Remember to keep the age of your child in mind while taking him through the narrative. Simplify as much as possible, so that your child understands.
2. Stress on the true meaning of Easter. Explain to your child that Easter eggs, bunnies, hot cross buns and so on are merely symbols borrowed from pre-Christian cultures and traditions. In fact, the very term Easter is also borrowed from such traditions. It doesn’t really convey the true significance of the event. Let your child understand that rather than following traditions and rituals or focussing on celebration, we need to be able to relate to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and ensure we lead lives worthy of his love and grace. Also, as a family, start referring to Easter as Resurrection Sunday. This will help emphasise the true meaning of Christ coming back to life after his death on the cross. Your child will also understand it better.
3. Focus on values: Christ riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday, washing the feet of his disciples during the Last Supper – these acts symbolise humility. And, his dying on the cross for the sins of mankind is a sacrificial act. Let your child imbibe these values. Teach her to be humble and put the needs of others before hers. The little sacrifices that she makes in order to make others happy and comfortable will go a long way in helping her grow up to be a good human being. You can also visit homes for the aged, the orphaned and the destitute, and spend some time interacting with the inmates and giving them some essentials or gifts. You can even encourage your child to save some of her pocket money to get something useful for the inmates of these homes.
4. Attend special church services: This is the time churches organise special services which highlight the Stations of the Cross (different points on the path to Mt Calvary that Jesus took while carrying the cross on which he was to be crucified), Christ’s last words on the cross and so on. They help understand the meaning of Resurrection Sunday better. Also, churches put up tableaus, plays, skits and conduct special choral services. Take your child along to attend these. They will help simplify the concept behind Good Friday and Easter.
5. Underline the theme of hope. Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection signify hope for mankind. Teach your child that she should not despair and be disappointed if something goes wrong or if she faces failure. There is always hope. She should bear in mind that nothing is lost. Even when she fails, she should keep trying until she succeeds. Also, this can be a time to recollect the lives of close family members who are no more and cherish loving memories.
‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ – John 3: 16 The Bible
Happy Resurrection Sunday!
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj