How does a Quaker explain Easter and Jesus to a child?

At our first day school meeting no one seemed to want to do the Easter lesson that was planned in the agenda. How does a Quaker explain Easter and Jesus to a child without offending anyone? Kathy Summers

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You either explain it and offend those who either (1) don't want it explained or (2) don't like the way you explained it, OR you don't explain it and offend those who want it explained.

Or, maybe you could explain that different Friends view it differently and have, say, 3 Friends representing some of those differences talk about what it means to them -- and then maybe elicit some responses from the children as to how the story touches them.  

And perhaps you could end with this passage from Isaac Penington, paraphrased appropriately for children:

 

...Well, for some reason my computer doesn't want to let me paste that here, but Google "Isaac Penington on Unity and Liberty" if you are not already familiar with the quote. 

 

Good luck! 

 

 

Just read the bible to them.  Inclusivity should include acceptance that some Quakers hold traditional Christian beliefs.  If you don't believe the bible account explain that it's based on a story in the bible.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding this question. I'll admit at times I can be a little dense. BUT, does not this site claim to be "PRIMITVE CHRISTIANITY REVIVED, AGAIN?" Some of the articles I read on this site are as far away from Primitive Christianity as the Al Qu'ran is from First Corinthians 13.

Without "Easter and Jesus," i.e., without the Resurrection,there would be NO Christianity,and certainly no Quakerism! I guess Dr. Spock lives on in spirit: "We must never offend the little darlings and stifle their sensitivities,lest we ruin their chances to express themselves." It has come to the time when we can not even tell our children whether they are male or female.Let them decide. What balderdash! If the child has a penis,it's most likely a boy,and if it doesn't, it's most likely a girl. Simple!

So,don't be afraid of telling the TRUTH.I'd prefer offending the little dears and NOT offending GOD.

If we claim to be Christians,then let's be Christians.Otherwise just adopt the the alternative Kafkian philosophy: "The meaning of life is that it ENDS." And,without the Resurrection,that is the only honest stand to take.

Hi Kathy,

From your post, I assume that you are from a liberal meeting. We are a thin skinned people to be sure and most of us come as refugees rather than immigrants. End result, it is virtually impossible avoid to offending at least one person. If through some stroke of luck you do avoid it, you've probably hit the lowest of all common denominators and have ceased to have a meaningful lesson plan.

My experience with first day school is some years back. I was fortunate to teach at a meeting that has a long standing policy of requiring that people interpret messages into a language that they can hear rather than placing the burden on the speaker.

What age range are you teaching?

If it's preschool/grade school range, I'd follow James Schulz suggestion of reading the story to them explaining that the story comes from the Bible and asking for their reactions to it. If you feel it necessary, you could include Easter's connection to spring celebrations and new life. Also, plan some kind of art project or activity since most young children can't spend an full hour sitting and talking.

For older kids with more of an understanding of Quakerism, you could use the Bible story and then connect it to the early Quaker understanding of the resurrection as experienced inside us -

"We tell them that they need to know the Just One, rather than argue about the resurrection. They should be sure that they partake of the first resurrection, by having him whom they have slain raised in them." (Barclay's Apology in Modern English, pg 439).

All the best to you,

Stephanie

Really? Really??

Richard Robert Davis said:

Perhaps I am misunderstanding this question. I'll admit at times I can be a little dense. BUT, does not this site claim to be "PRIMITVE CHRISTIANITY REVIVED, AGAIN?" Some of the articles I read on this site are as far away from Primitive Christianity as the Al Qu'ran is from First Corinthians 13.

Without "Easter and Jesus," i.e., without the Resurrection,there would be NO Christianity,and certainly no Quakerism! I guess Dr. Spock lives on in spirit: "We must never offend the little darlings and stifle their sensitivities,lest we ruin their chances to express themselves." It has come to the time when we can not even tell our children whether they are male or female.Let them decide. What balderdash! If the child has a penis,it's most likely a boy,and if it doesn't, it's most likely a girl. Simple!

So,don't be afraid of telling the TRUTH.I'd prefer offending the little dears and NOT offending GOD.

If we claim to be Christians,then let's be Christians.Otherwise just adopt the the alternative Kafkian philosophy: "The meaning of life is that it ENDS." And,without the Resurrection,that is the only honest stand to take.

Richard,

First, I appreciate your post. You've said what I often think, though perhaps somewhat more vigorously than even I usually think it.

Second, I don't think it's the children that Kathy wants to avoid offending. More likely it's the "little darlings' " darling parents...


Richard Robert Davis said:

Perhaps I am misunderstanding this question. I'll admit at times I can be a little dense. BUT, does not this site claim to be "PRIMITVE CHRISTIANITY REVIVED, AGAIN?" Some of the articles I read on this site are as far away from Primitive Christianity as the Al Qu'ran is from First Corinthians 13.

Without "Easter and Jesus," i.e., without the Resurrection,there would be NO Christianity,and certainly no Quakerism! I guess Dr. Spock lives on in spirit: "We must never offend the little darlings and stifle their sensitivities,lest we ruin their chances to express themselves." It has come to the time when we can not even tell our children whether they are male or female.Let them decide. What balderdash! If the child has a penis,it's most likely a boy,and if it doesn't, it's most likely a girl. Simple!

So,don't be afraid of telling the TRUTH.I'd prefer offending the little dears and NOT offending GOD.

If we claim to be Christians,then let's be Christians.Otherwise just adopt the the alternative Kafkian philosophy: "The meaning of life is that it ENDS." And,without the Resurrection,that is the only honest stand to take.

I'd start with Good Friday -- likely the week before, give some time for sadness.  Like it or not, part of this story is of humanity rejecting God when God reaches out to us.  Resurrection is the Easter story... honestly, the children should understand it better that the adults do...  Mary meeting her Friend Jesus and mistaking him for the Gardner because he can't be alive... Peter meeting Jesus fishing, the two minor disciples meeting Jesus on the road...  The resurrection was not just about Jesus conquering death -- but it was about Jesus continuing a relationship with his friends. 

There is something about burying someone on Friday, and eating breakfast with him on Monday... many people talk about having a relationship with Jesus... the stories tell us that it is possible.

(one thing you should consider -- your lesson is SCHEDULED!  If someone is offended, they can take it up with the committee -- complaining to the person they asked to present this passage directly is just not appropriate.  if you have a problem... please refer them to the planning committee.)  

 I think I must have posted a response to one person only by mistake,so let me just say,

Yes,Ken,

 REALLY? REALLY ??

 

Stephanie and Adria,very good observations by you both. I think the Gospel,as preached by St.Paul in First  Corinthians 15: 1-9,esp., must be understood first before we can appreciate the Resurrection of Christ. In other words, we have to comprehend that He "Died for our sins," before He was Resurrected from the dead.

That is the whole Gospel;not the gospel of religious people,perhaps,but the Christian Gospel.And,as Paul said of himself,we should never be ashamed of that. If one does not believe this,then he/she is a "christianized" religious person,but not a Christian.

 

 

I don't understand what it is that makes people want to say that believing THIS way is Christian, and believing THAT way is not. This is the sort of thing that leads to many unpleasant or painful outcomes, ending ultimately with the Inquisition, quite unlike the inclusive, all-loving manner of Jesus Himself.

A simple familiarity with either the early history of the Christian church, with the texts unearthed in the Dead Sea and the Nag  Hammadi site, or with the incredible variety of Christian churches in the world today, illustrates that there is not just one way to be Christian.

My belief in God and in the Gospel does not depend on any supernatural events, or rather interpretation of events, such as the traditional telling of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. That does not make the birth, life and death of Jesus any less deep, meaningful or profound for me.

I am a Thomasine Christian than a Pauline Christian. I find it equally valid, although admittedly not mainstream.

In response to the original poster, I would say "don't complicate it or over-think it." How about telling the story the way it resonates in your spirit? Maybe you would want to give other ways of looking at the Easter story their fair due, but anything less would be inauthentic. Children are pretty aware of that kind of lapse.


Richard Robert Davis said:

I think the Gospel,as preached by St.Paul in First  Corinthians 15: 1-9,esp., must be understood first before we can appreciate the Resurrection of Christ. In other words, we have to comprehend that He "Died for our sins," before He was Resurrected from the dead.

That is the whole Gospel;not the gospel of religious people,perhaps,but the Christian Gospel.And,as Paul said of himself,we should never be ashamed of that. If one does not believe this,then he/she is a "christianized" religious person,but not a Christian.

 

 

I pretty much agree with Dr. Arnold. Teaching children a one-way view of Christianity as if one has *the* pipeline to God I think in the long run eventually drives many young people away. Teaching different viewpoints and ways that Easter/Resurrection is interpreted and viewed and giving it context within the times, to me, seems more honest and more likely to promote children maintaining an interest in and connection with the spiritual as part of their lives. If one believes the Bible to be a cornerstone of Christianity, then it is important to also recognize that no one human alive today has perfect understanding. Or, it's equally likely that all have perfect understanding if they seek it from God.

Dr. Bruce R. Arnold said:

I don't understand what it is that makes people want to say that believing THIS way is Christian, and believing THAT way is not. This is the sort of thing that leads to many unpleasant or painful outcomes, ending ultimately with the Inquisition, quite unlike the inclusive, all-loving manner of Jesus Himself.

A simple familiarity with either the early history of the Christian church, with the texts unearthed in the Dead Sea and the Nag  Hammadi site, or with the incredible variety of Christian churches in the world today, illustrates that there is not just one way to be Christian.

My belief in God and in the Gospel does not depend on any supernatural events, or rather interpretation of events, such as the traditional telling of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. That does not make the birth, life and death of Jesus any less deep, meaningful or profound for me.

I am a Thomasine Christian than a Pauline Christian. I find it equally valid, although admittedly not mainstream.

In response to the original poster, I would say "don't complicate it or over-think it." How about telling the story the way it resonates in your spirit? Maybe you would want to give other ways of looking at the Easter story their fair due, but anything less would be inauthentic. Children are pretty aware of that kind of lapse.


Richard Robert Davis said:

I think the Gospel,as preached by St.Paul in First  Corinthians 15: 1-9,esp., must be understood first before we can appreciate the Resurrection of Christ. In other words, we have to comprehend that He "Died for our sins," before He was Resurrected from the dead.

That is the whole Gospel;not the gospel of religious people,perhaps,but the Christian Gospel.And,as Paul said of himself,we should never be ashamed of that. If one does not believe this,then he/she is a "christianized" religious person,but not a Christian.

 

 

Ahh,now we are getting in deep with the intellectuals and erudite scholars.

In my 50+ years of studying the Bible,theology and related subjects,I have learned at least 3 things.1.)The canonical Scriptures are true,2.)the Gospel is very simple that even a child can grasp it,and 3.)apologetics,debates and arguments with an unbeliever is a waste of precious time. So,I will conclude my interchange in this discussion by referring to what the Lord Jesus said in St. John 8: 21-32. Believe it, or take your chances that Gnostic fables and Mickey Mouse tales will be a better guide.

Cheerio,

RRD    

You can even take a moment to explain that the reason Friends have historically rejected Easter as a Pagan holiday as that those chocolate bunnies are in their baskets because in parts of Eastern Europe, they worshipped a goddess named Eostre, to whom rabbits were sacred, and yes, she is where Easter got its name. And those colored eggs in their baskets? Those same Pagans believed that decorating eggs with intricate symbols (example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maco_nix/6140632151 ) gave them power. It was like a form of magic. Solid colored eggs on a necklace to cure sickness, eggs with fertility symbols buried in the fields for a good crop or around the bull's neck to ensure more calves, eggs with protection symbols around the house... These symbols all took on new meanings after Christianity was brought to the region 1000 years ago.

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