We’ve just observed Lent, Holy Week, and now we’re basking in the Easter glow of Christ’s Resurrection. The Resurrection is God’s response to the world’s narrative of death and violence:
“Death has been swallowed up
“Where, O death, is your victory?”
“Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
But how do we live into the hope and reality of the Resurrection with our children, when we are still surrounded by sin and death?
I love NPR and for years every time I got in the car, I turned on the news without a thought. One day as I was driving down the road, my son responded to one of the reports with great concern. It was then I decided to use more discretion in choosing what to listen to in the car. Parenting requires a relentless attentiveness to our children, not only to protect them from harm but also to help them negotiate a life that is unavoidably painful.
To help them negotiate the world, we must pay attention to the narratives that shape our lives and our children’s lives. Our world is filled with competing narratives, some more explicit than others. Our children pick up on these narratives and, whether we shelter them or not, they are formed by them. I turned off the radio because in observing my child’s grief I realized there is a more determinative narrative that I want to shape my children’s lives — the narrative of salvation.
Resurrection is hope. Hope is not naiveté or denial. Children are naturally hopeful, but they are also aware of evil. Children experience pain, sadness, and confusion just as deeply as adults, but they are often better able to keep their hope in the midst of grief. That is what is meant by “childhood resilience.” Living into the Resurrection, then, means nurturing the child’s innate sense of hope that sin and death are not part of God’s plan for us; it is God’s desire for us to abide in Him in peace, truth, and justice — to enjoy abundant life.
I try to practice Resurrection hope with my children in very simple ways: by paying attention to those oftentimes small moments when truth, goodness, and beauty manifest around us. We observe the beauty of birds and birdsong. We give thanks for our food. We delight in friendships. We pray for those who are hungry and suffering and ask God to help us have hearts willing to help when we’re able. We reflect on the difference our love for one another makes. We practice forgiveness and reconciliation. We recognize that God is at work in the world in all these things.
Being disciples of Christ does not mean pretending the world is better than it is. Nor does it mean moving about the world with blinders on so as to protect ourselves — and our children. Rather in following Christ we become transformed to see the world truthfully and live so as to remind the world, “This is not the end of the story!” We do this each Sunday when we collectively and boldly proclaim, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” This is the narrative of salvation that must determine our lives and nurture our hope. Alleluia! Christ is risen!