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Friday, March 30, 2018

Can kids really understand Jesus' death and resurrection?

How to talk to your children about Jesus' death
Can kids really understand Jesus' death and resurrection?

"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" blares from the Echo Dot sitting on our kitchen counter. We listen to it so much, my 3-year-old daughter Dahlia perfectly mimics the announcement of it in that sing-songy computer voice of Alexa's. "'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' by Gene Autry," they report in unison, with the first syllable in Autry drawn out as though Alexa might be a little Southern. It's the 11th time we've listened to "Rudolph" today, which would be fine but for the fact that it's March and we're in the middle of Lent.

So when my Rudolph-obsessed daughter asks about what those mean men are doing to Jesus in the Stations of the Cross surrounding the perimeter of our church, I seize the opportunity to bring her forward in the church calendar.

On a Friday evening, we walk under the scaffolding that climbs to the ceiling of Saint John the Baptist where improvements to the roof and ceiling are underway. The scaffolding makes me aware of how impossibly high the church ceilings are. I clutch Dahlia's hand as though I might stop her from falling though our feet are firmly planted on the green and ivory tiled floor. The church is quieter than on Sundays and the lights dimmed.

"Why is it so quiet?" she whispers.

"People are praying. They're thinking about how Jesus died."

"Oh," she says. "I want to see Jesus."

"That's good." I tell her. "He lives here."

"Where?" she asks, spinning her little blonde head left and right looking for a bed or a kitchen.

"He's there," I say pointing to the crucifix towering over the altar. "And there," I say pointing to the sacred heart of Jesus statue in a nook of the church. "And here," I tell her pointing to her heart.

"No! I want to see the REAL Jesus," Dahlia declares much louder than is appropriate. Several in the congregation of 15 or 20 people, most of them over age 60 with graying hair and heavy coats, turn and smile us.

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