Our family desperately needed a vacation, where we could get away from our various divided obligations and just be a family again. Easter weekend was the only good chance for this. So we did the “bad Christian” thing and skipped town for a time-share condo north of Napa valley. So what to do for Easter, as a family? Much like our Advent candle rituals, what transpired was chaos. But I like it.
Me: The Jews ask, “Why is this night different from any other night?”
Daughter 2: They do?
Daughter 1: For Passover.
Daughter 2: What for?
Me: To remember. So let me change the question a little: Why is this day different from any other day?
Wife: Because bunnies lay chocolate eggs?
<Long digression omitted. Is that why they’re called “bunny trails”?>
Me: Thanks a lot, Kay. Now, why is this day different from any other day?
Wife: Doesn’t anyone know?
Daughter 2: Because Jesus rose from the dead.
Me: Why? Why is that important?
“Uh-oh. Here we go, into blasphemy.”
Daughter 2: Because otherwise, our beliefs wouldn’t be true.
Me: But is that important, that our beliefs are true?
Daughter 1: Yes, it is.
Me: I guess so. (What I didn’t get across was the distinction between having beliefs that are true, versus the need to be right about our beliefs.) But why is it important that Jesus rose from the dead? What did that do?
Daughter 2: Saved us.
Me: Saved us, from what?
Daughter 2: From sin and death.
Me: Go on.
Daughter 2: And other bad stuff.
Me: Like what?
Daughter 2: Hell, Beelzebub.
Me: That’s too far away, too cosmic. What other bad stuff, in your daily lives?
Daughter 2: Homework?
Wife: No, it didn’t save you from homework.
Daughter 1: Yes, it did. Because if we didn’t have Easter, we would have had to go to school on Good Friday, with homework due that day.
Wife: But didn’t Jesus’s death save us from our sins? And his resurrection is him conquering death?
Me: That’s where I think the church has fed us incorrect information.
Son: Uh-oh. Here we go, into blasphemy.
Me: The church seems largely focused on the death of Jesus. But I think it’s the resurrection that saves us.
Wife: Jesus was the first to rise from the dead.
Daughter 1: No, what about Lazarus?
Me: Lazarus eventually died again. Various people have been raised from the dead. Even today, it still happens.
Wife: But Jesus is greater than Chuck Norris.
Wife: Because Chuck Norris will die. But Jesus conquered death.
Son: Oh yeah.
Wife: Super-Jesus! Bwa-ha-ha!
Me: No, not Super-Jesus. Jesus is the first fruit, he’s the first one. But what “bad stuff” did he conquer?
Me: Haven’t any of you read the end of the story?
Daughter 2: What do you mean?
Wife: The last book, the book of Revelation.
Daughter 2: Oh, that. The Lamb opens the Seven Seals and all this weird stuff happens.
Me: That’s all heebedy-jeebedy.
Daughter 2: That’s why I haven’t read it. I don’t get it.
Me: What happens at the very end of the story?
Wife: God is with us.
Me: Yes. God says, “You will be my people, and I will be your God,” which is what he says in Genesis. Even though the Bible is 66 books, written by different people, for different reasons, each from their own point of view, it tells one story: God’s story. That one story runs from cover to cover. But in the end, there is a difference: It says, “God will live with them.” Like, actually live together.
Wife: Like he did at the beginning.
Me: We get to live with God. And what goes away? What is there no more of?
Daughter 1: Tears?
Me: No more tears.
Wife: I would like to live a life without tears.
Me: That is the end of the story, and the beginning of the new story. And Jesus is the first one to break through. He’s the first one, but we get to follow. He’s the first of a new species. We’re like amphibians.
Daughter 2: But we don’t breathe water.
Wife: We are like spiritual tadpoles.
Me: And we will eventually grow up to become like our big brother.
Wife: <Throwing a small chocolate egg at Son> Not you. He means Jesus is our big brother.
Son: Ow! Enough with the eggs!
Me: See, this is bigger than sin. It’s bigger than hell. It’s bigger than the devil. Unless you know the whole story, you won’t know how big it is. Jesus is the First One.
More examples of how I teach my children: