It’s always dangerous to ask questions during the children’s sermon. The kids could say anything. Or nothing. Or, they could pull their dresses up over their heads and roll around on the floor. (Pro Tip: The kid most likely to pull that one is the kid that comes home with me.)
But sometimes, asking questions provokes conversations like this:
Me: So, whatever kind of prayers you put in your prayer basket, God listens to them. You can pray when you’re happy, or when you’re sad, or when you’re angry or cranky.
Emma: Yeah, or I could just write, “I love you and I miss you.”
Me: Yep! You sure could.
Emma: Because, Jesus dies. At Easter.
Me: That’s true. But he comes back, right?
Emma: Yeah, he does! At Christmas!”
Me: Well . . . yes. It’s a confusing story.
Emma: And it’s a really long story, too!
Of course, this is a cute conversation with one of the cutest kids in Minnesota, so the congregation loves it. We all laugh in a good-natured way.
But it’s true: Jesus dies at Easter, and he comes back not just when God raises him from the dead, but when we meet him as a baby in the manger every year. In the course of the church year, Jesus goes from being a baby, to being a grown up healer and teacher, to dying on the cross, to rising from the dead, to being alive again. He is constantly on the way to the cross or appearing to his disciples after he’s been raised. It is confusing.
This year, we’re using the Narrative Lectionary at First and Beckville. We’ll hear only Old Testament stories through the fall. At Christmas, we’ll hear about the birth of Jesus. We’ll hear about his life and death until Easter, then spend the spring hearing from the book of Acts and many of the New Testament letters. One of the goals of this lectionary is to make God’s confusing story a little easier to understand. To show us how God moves through the stories of the Old Testament, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and the witness of the first Christians.
It’s a long story. We’ll spend nine months telling it. And then, we’ll tell it again. Because it’s a confusing story, and there’s lots to wrestle with, wonder about, and absorb.
What stories are you grappling with lately?