What Should the Kids Hear?

April 10, 2022

Every year on Palm Sunday, I wonder how much of the Passion the kids in the pews should be hearing. Anyone who has listened to the entire Passion story knows it is intense and disturbing. Then again, many parents don’t think twice about letting their children see a movie that contains violence and killing or read books about the same. (I can’t judge them because I thoroughly enjoyed reading Harry Potter to my kids—and it is full of violence.) But the movies and books kids are reading are fiction, fantasy, or science-fiction, right? Many of them are, but kids are also exposed to local or world news that is filled with deeply disturbing reports. This brings me to the question, should we shield our children from what happened to Jesus? After all, kids’ eyes often zero in on the crucifixes in church. If we advertise that moment in Jesus’ life as central to our faith, shouldn’t children be exposed to the story that culminated there?

I have also found that even young kids who can’t possibly comprehend the language or follow the arc of the story tune in to the Passion reading and catch its flavor as the adults around them are moved during it. I don’t think this is a bad thing in a culture that generally avoids discomfort and distress. We should be disturbed when we hear the Passion story, and our children can learn from watching how we react to betrayal, torture, unjust sentencing, and killing. Most of Jesus’ closest companions le! the scene.
For various reasons, they simply couldn’t deal with it. Yet some—notably, the women—stayed with Jesus despite how frightening and horrific it was. Are we willing to brave the discomfort this week so that we can stay and learn from him? Are we willing to let our children learn from him?
FOR ACTION: Make a commitment to read the entire Passion account yourself this week. The one read in churches throughout the world today is Luke 22:14-23:56, but you can read any of the Gospel accounts.
TO PRAY: Lord Jesus, as we remember your final days before your crucifixion, give us the strength to stay present to those who are still suffering their own passions today.