“I have seen the Lord” (Easter) — Christian ed @ home

Of all the things I miss about not gathering for in-person Sunday school and worship, the one I miss the most is getting to hear our children’s questions.  Kids ask the most wonderful, thought-provoking theological questions!  One of the most pressing questions I hear is: What does Jesus look like?  On the surface, this seems like a question about his appearance.  In reality, it’s asking how we recognize Jesus in the world.  The interaction between Mary and the resurrected Jesus offers a springboard for considering this important aspect of our faith.

Begin the time with your children by playing a game.  Ask them to close their eyes.  Repeat their names using a particular tone of voice (happy, confused, etc.).  After doing so, ask them to share how your tone made them feel.  Repeat this several times using different tones of voice.  Note that you said the same thing (their names) each time, but their responses were different.  Ask them why they think this happened.  Share that our feelings change based on the way someone speaks to us.

Prepare to read aloud John 20:1-18.  You may choose to read a children’s Bible version of the three women discovering the empty tomb and then encountering the resurrected Jesus.  If your children’s Bible does not include verse 16 (Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” — which means “Teacher”) have an “adult” Bible on hand so you can refer to it during your discussion.  Share with your children that this story takes place three days after Jesus’ body was buried.

Read the story aloud.  Ask your children to recall how Mary reacted when the man in the garden first spoke to her.  Why doesn’t she recognize Jesus’ voice?  Then ask them to share what Jesus says to her that allows her see who he is. Note that he simply says her name.  There must have been something about the way he said her name that made her realize he had returned and was standing beside her.  Have each family member say “Mary” in the way you think Jesus might have said it.  Discuss why each person’s approach might allow Mary to believe Jesus was resurrected.  What is it about Jesus saying this name that is uniquely Jesus-y?  Where does the power in his words come from?

Next spend a bit of time exploring stories from Jesus’ life when his words allowed people to experience God.   They might be times he taught his followers about God or they could be instances when others felt God’s love, care or healing.  Share with your children that each of us can still experience Jesus by our interactions with one another.  We are made in the image of God, so we are like Jesus.  We do and say things that allow those around us to experience Jesus just as those who knew him during his life on earth did.  Ask each family member to share examples of times they were able to see Jesus in someone else.  Because this is an abstract idea, you may need to share a few of your own examples with your children.  You can also prompt them by asking them to think of times that others said or did something that was similar to what Jesus said or did.

In celebration of Easter, commit as a family to notice Jesus in others throughout the coming week.  Take some time each day to talk about times you experienced Jesus in others.  What did someone do or say that made you think of Jesus?  How did this experience make you feel?  How did you respond to the person?  To extend these discussions, you can also talk about the ways that each of you demonstrate Jesus’ love to those you interact with.

JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.