This April brought those of us working with the 3- to 6-year-olds on Sunday mornings into preparation for the feast of Easter and the wonderment inherent in the mystery of life and death. We began Lent by working with a model of the city of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time and listened to his words in John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it remain s just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ” And so we dug into the dirt to find a seed that is just breaking apart to let roots develop. In another pot, planted three weeks prior, we found that the seed is almost not visible at all, so complete is its transformation into what is to come. We asked the question: “Where does the power come from that will transform this small seed into a full head of grain?” Sometimes the children just look back at us, eyes wide with wonder. Sometimes they whisper, “God.” It is always a special moment to ponder these truths together and to be awed by the greatness of God.

Our children in grades one through three have been working more extensively with the Jerusalem map, moving the walls, finding the spot on a mute map for the Cenacle, the Temple, Caiaphas’ house, Herod’s house, and the Tower of Antonia, where Pontius Pilate lived when he came into town for celebrations. We talk about the events of Holy Week and Jesus’ great love for each one of us that he was willing to step in and take the punishment that should have been ours. Now we are free to share God’s love with the entire world … and perhaps change it too.

3D map of Jerusalem

The older children have many questions, and we answer the ones that we can and ponder together the ones that we can’t. The one thing we know is that life is often unfair and difficult, but God is good, and Jesus, our Good Shepherd and friend, is there for us, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, he will help us live lives that are gracious and good. And with that knowledge comes the peace and joy that only God can give.

—Harriet Claiborne

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