I have a great responsibility at my church. “Great” as in a lot of responsibility, and “great” as in it is really awesome. I teach the 8 and 9 year old children.
My co-teacher and I decided at the beginning of the year that we would each teach every other lesson. We didn’t go through and choose which lessons we especially wanted (or didn’t want) to teach or pick and choose like that.
So I was very excited when I saw that it happened to be my turn when the Easter lesson came up.
This is the greatest lesson mankind will ever learn. And we will never stop learning it. There is too much to know, too much to discover, too much to feel, too much to understand, and too much love to comprehend.
I have been taking extra time these last few weeks (and I’m not any where close to done yet) learning about Jesus Christ and how central He is to my entire existence and how He is the source of all my joy.
All of it.
I only have about 40 minutes to present each lesson – and the attention span of the beautiful children in my class varies quite a bit, so I have to make each minute count. The lesson manual suggested we emphasize the fact that all prophets from Adam to present day have prophesied of Christ and His atoning sacrifice for us. This was foreordained from the beginning of the world and is one of the great pillars of the Plan of Salvation. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ created the world and put all of us on to it knowing that the only way we would be able to come back to them would be through a Savior, whose great sacrifice would be ultimate and eternal. Every prophet, from the very beginning, has been testifying of the divinity of Christ, His love, and our dependence on Him for forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, resurrection, and eternal life.
Yes. To 8 and 9 year olds.
This was truly a great responsibility.
(Of course, the number one place to learn of Christ is in the home and church is to supplement and support parents in their efforts to create homes centered on Christ. But still, 40 minutes just didn’t seem like nearly enough time to even begin addressing this topic.)
So I decided to go with some Bible videos I found online. They are powerful. (And there are MANY! But I’m just including here the videos I showed the children or would have if I had had enough time.) Between video segments I explained the scriptures and retold the scriptural account of those last hours of Christ’s life and the day of His resurrection. I chose not to show the video on the crucifixion, but I had some paintings to show, and of course, we took the time to talk about all that had happened.
To remind the children of how Jesus’ ministry on the earth was done completely out of love and for the benefit of mankind, I showed them this first video. It reminded me of how much I love Him, and I hoped it would remind the children of that as well.
And then we went back to the garden. I wish we had had time to talk about the Last Supper. But 40 minutes! How can you fit it all in?
We talked about the two great gifts Jesus has given us. One gift is for all mankind, no matter who, what, where, when, or why. That is the gift of resurrection. Because Christ himself rose the third day, we will all rise and live again. The second gift was that of the Atonement. It is offered to all, but not all will accept it. This is the opportunity to repent of our sins and be reconciled to God. It is the opportunity to follow him and have Eternal Life, which is to live with God again. It is also the gift of having Christ there as our advocate with the Father, to have Him succor us, and to be able to turn to Him in all our pain, sufferings, afflictions, sins, heartache, illnesses, and sorrows (Alma 7:11-12 – just scroll down to the highlighted verses.) Because he bore the sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, and suffered so much that even He, the Son of God, bled from every pore, we have the opportunity to come to Him, feel His love, and be with God again.
How can we begin to comprehend how much love He has for us? He didn’t have to do it. But He did. And He did it for you and me because He loves us.
I told the children to watch very carefully, that this video was very quiet, and that they wouldn’t hear a lot of speaking. But that they would be able to see a lot and feel a lot. (I turned this one off before Peter cuts off the ear!)
Then I put these pictures on the board.
I referred back to the first video and continued with the narrative where Jesus is condemned before the High Priest and then before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. I didn’t show the video of the crucifixion – I think for most children (and many adults) this is too hard to watch. But the video is so powerful, so I will link to it here also.
But I did put this picture on the board.
And then, because time was running out, we had to hurry on. I wasn’t able to show the next video, but it helped me visualize some of the story in a way I hadn’t before, so I’m adding it here anyway.
This was the last video I showed them.
And I put these paintings on the board.
I guessed that some of the other teachers in the other classrooms with the younger and older children would be handing out Easter candy. I’m not against Easter candy (just look at all the left overs in my closet! It’s a large pile that is quickly diminishing!) But I wanted them to remember that Easter has nothing to do with chocolates and bunnies. I asked them, where in this history of Jesus Christ is a rabbit? Where is the candy? Where are the eggs? I reminded them that there is nothing wrong with those things. They are fun and we look forward to them. But the true gift of Easter is something so much more.
The Atonement and the Resurrection.
The gift of forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation, life, and ultimately Eternal Life with our Father in Heaven.
I handed them each a little plastic egg with a little piece of paper inside. On the paper I had printed out…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
I’ve mentioned before my devotion to Christ and my commitment to study His life and His gifts more purposefully. I am finding that, like President Nelson, as I read all the references to Christ in the scriptures, I am becoming a new person. My heart is softening. My understanding is enlarging. And I find myself on my knees, full of joy and gratitude, pleading for mercy for all my shortcomings. I know I can be forgiven. I know it, because I know He loves me. I testify that He loves us all.
Leading up to Easter, we did all the Easter Bunny things. Baskets, brunch, colored eggs, jelly beans, new church clothes (or socks!), and chocolate bunnies for breakfast.
(Not much has changed in a year! Except maybe I’m a slightly better photographer!)
And I made them take the obligatory we’re-so-cute-in-our-Easter-best photo!
Some of the outtakes are hilarious!!! Oh, that kid!! Ha ha!
And my heart was so full Sunday afternoon when I listened to this amazing sermon on the greatest moment in history for all mankind. This is how I feel. This is what, year after year, scripture after scripture, and hymn and song after hymn and song, I learn and feel in my heart.
If you would prefer reading it on your own instead of watching, it is all at the link below.
I hope your Easter was amazing. I hope every day is amazing. I hope, that even on the really horrible want-to-give-up days, you are able to listen to the little voice in your heart telling you God is there, He is aware, and He knows you can do this because He will help you. I hope we can all learn of Christ, not just through study, but by doing His will and following His example.
I am so grateful for the testimony I have of Him and of His glorious gospel. May we grow closer to Christ every day, in our own personal moments, and even together – over a silly little homeschooling blog. 🙂
“God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son!”