Thursday, March 29, 2012

Before and After

All of history is divided into BEFORE and AFTER, although where you draw those lines is particular to your interests. If you are interested in battles and wars then you probably divide American history into parts bounded by the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Viet Nam War and so forth. You probably even have sub-periods that are divided by the smaller conflicts: the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, the Korean Conflict, and Desert Storm and so on. 

My own (relatively) short history is divided into parts: before I left home, before I was married, after I had kids, after the kids left home. "Before I left home" is further divided into before we moved to this place, or after I went to this school or that school. Likewise, "after I left home" is subdivided into before I had children, after the children started school, etc. You have probably gotten the point by now - we never see time as a whole, only divided into ever smaller portions, relative to each other – before and after.

As I reflect on this pattern it strikes me that what we know of Jesus is also divided into before and after. BEFORE Jesus’ death, he was teacher, healer, and preacher. AFTER Jesus’ resurrection, he was Savior. Our faith rests on this before and after scenario. 

So, from that “profound” reflection, I come today with a few more practical than profound thoughts BEFORE we enter Holy Week:
  • BEFORE each event you plan to attend, try to figure out what will be of interest to your children. They will do this year after year; it's not necessary to get the whole story this year. Here are some examples: 
    • Palm Sunday - you can tell your child that there is going to be a "procession" this Sunday. Depending on the child's age you may want to explain that one time when Jesus went to Jerusalem there was a parade in his honor. The significance of this will dawn on them later. 
    • Maundy Thursday - depending on the child's age you can focus on Jesus as servant, who washes the feet of his friends, or on the last supper and communion, or even on how one of Jesus friends betrays him. This service is overflowing for good topics to discuss with children.
    • Good Friday - you can tell your child ahead of time that this will be a sad, quiet, dark time in church. You can tell them that we are thinking about some very important things that Jesus said at the very end of his life. Tell them how you expect them to behave and that you will answer questions AFTER the service. With older children you can open discussions of death and dying; you will know from their questions what they are ready to hear.
    • Easter Vigil - this is one of the most exciting worship services for children all year. It is filled with drama, surprises, and stories told in a variety of ways. I highly recommend it!
  • AFTER each event, make time for any questions they may have. Ask them about things you think they might have noticed, or things you saw them react to such as lights going out or the banging of a gong.
Finally, make sure that you include Easter in your AFTER - because that is the most important AFTER of them all.

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