Happy Maundy Thursday!
On this eve before the day that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus, I sense that often we are reluctant to talk about the darker side of Jesus' passion, especially with our children. With all the betrayal, brutality, and blood, frankly many of us often like to move straight from Jesus' triumphal entry to his resurrection skipping all the messy stuff in between. We want to get to Easter quickly and talk about butterflies and dogwoods and new life.
How do we share the story of Jesus' passion with children? Contrary to the cultural taboo of not talking about death,
I believe our kids can handle it. Death surrounds us; it is part of life. Children encounter death in their families and communities. I don't think we will scare them by talking about it. So how do we talk about Jesus' death and its meaning to our children? Recently I came across a blog with words from a Christian educator named Wendy Claire Barry. She shared them with the children of her church, but I think they are meaningful for people of all ages:
We call Good Friday 'good' because we are an Easter people. Even in the name we give it, we can't look at this day alone for the terrible thing that happened, that Jesus whom we love died on the cross. We look all the way to Sunday, when Jesus who died on the cross rose again. All the same, we don't skip over this terrible thing, that Jesus whom we love died on a dark day when soldiers shamed him, nearly all his friends left his side, and he wasn't even sure that God was with him. We tell the story of what happened that day because it is important, it's necessary: Jesus was afraid, he suffered, he died... and God turned his fear, his suffering, and his dying into hope, wholeness and new life.
We tell our story, our Christian story, over and over again because it tells us the truth: not that there is no darkness, but that "light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." Remembering that gives us comfort and makes us bold, it helps us encourage others and find goodness in the most difficult of days. We are an Easter people because we have been to the cross and the grave and we know the promise God makes to us in Jesus: God's power and grace can transform anything, God's love is stronger than the cross, stronger than death itself. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and make all things new.
Join us this evening at 7:30 in the chapel for our Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service as we reflect on the darkness that surrounds us and is within us before we return on Sunday for Easter to celebrate the light that shines brightly in the darkness!
Prayer for Today
O God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus, who was obedient even unto death. May we too be dead to sin so that we might also be alive to you and all that is good. Amen.