Last year, my goddaughter’s mother let me know that my brilliant godchild, who was 7 at the time, had been asking questions about Easter. Her parents are not especially religious, but wanted her to have some exposure to spirituality and religion and so they hired me. (We joke about this often.) Unfortunately, since I am not local to them anymore and haven’t been for some years, my ability to do things like take her to church regularly is a little bit hampered. As a result, last year was the first time she started to really inquire after this whole Easter thing, beyond Cadbury bunnies and dyed eggs.

Please explain Easter, then, to someone with limited exposure to Christianity in particular or God in general.

Um, okay.

What follows is what I sent her. I found it while sorting out my extremely neglected email inbox, in a reply to me from my sister, who mentioned she thought I should post it here. Since my sister is also brilliant, I decided to do just that.


Dear S,

Your mom told me you were asking about the Easter story, and I thought I’d give you my version of it. I wish I were there with you to talk about it in person, but in the meantime, we’ll try this!

A very long time ago, there lived a Jewish man named Jesus. He was a very wise man, a holy man, and a rabbi, which means teacher. He taught people about God, and said that God wants us to love each other and be kind to one another. At the time Jesus lived, there were a lot of rules about who could be friends or hang out with each other, and Jesus pretty much said those rules were stupid, that people should be equal no matter what they believed or how much money they had. People started to follow Jesus around and listen to him speak. Some people said that they thought God had sent him down to earth. They were saying that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. They called him the King of the Jews, because the Jewish people are waiting for the Messiah to come and lead them.

The people in power were scared of Jesus because the things he said challenged their authority, and because change is scary. They also didn’t believe he was the Messiah and thought it would offend God for people to follow Jesus and say he was the Son of God when he really wasn’t. So they decided that Jesus should be executed, killed for his beliefs and the changes he was trying to make in his world.

Jesus knew that there were a lot of people out to kill him. There was a Jewish holiday dinner, a Passover Seder, and he gathered his friends together to celebrate and eat. During dinner, he told them that they should always remember him, no matter what happened. He said that every time they shared bread and wine, they should think about what he taught them, and remember that God loves them and wants them to be good people.

The scared people took Jesus and had him killed. The way they did it was to put him up on a huge wooden cross with nails in his hands and feet. They put a crown of thorns on his head to make fun of how people called him King. It was pretty bad. Jesus’s friends and students were scared and upset at losing their friend and teacher. After he died, his friends came to take him down from the cross and carried him to a grave. At the time, graves were like big caves, and they would put a huge stone in front of the cave to seal it up. They sealed him in the tomb and went away to grieve.

About three days later, some of the women who loved Jesus came to visit his grave. When they got there, they found the stone rolled away from the grave, and the tomb was empty — there was no body in there! She thought someone had come to steal the body, and was very upset. An angel appeared and told her not to be afraid, that Jesus had risen from the dead and would see them again. The women ran to tell the others, but on the way they were stopped by Jesus himself. Jesus told them not to be afraid, and that God would bring them all to Heaven to be with him again after they die.

Jesus appeared to all of his students later, telling them that they had to keep doing the work he started, but that he would see them again after they died. He sent them into the world to do good work, and then he went to Heaven to be with God.

Easter isn’t about Jesus dying, it’s about the part after that, the part where he lived on after he died. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and that he rose from the dead. When we’re baptized, we are recognized as part of Jesus’s family, children of God, and we have a responsibility to do what Jesus taught — to love everyone, even our enemies, even people who are mean to us, and to work for justice and peace in the world. My home is also a Jewish home, and Jews don’t believe that Jesus was literally the Son of God. However, they do also believe that it is important to be a good person and that God wants us to work for peace. BWB says he doesn’t have to believe that Jesus was God’s son in order to believe that he was a wise and holy man who had a lot of good ideas about how people should act. I agree!

I know this is a lot of information, and some of it might not make sense. If you ever have any questions or want to talk about this stuff, you can always ask your mom and dad to call me, or see if they can get a video conference going so we can see each other. I’d like that even if you don’t have questions, because I think you’re an awesome kid and I’d love to talk to you! But especially about things like this, I’m always happy to talk.

I miss you and hope school is going well! Many hugs and much love from both BWB and me!

Love, me