I’ve preached much more this Easter season than I usually do, and here’s what I’ve noticed in the texts this season—they all speak to our fears.
- Jesus, speaking to his disciples, breathed peace on them and told them not to be afraid.
- Jesus ate with his disciples after his resurrection, showing them that there was nothing to fear in death, and that he was truly alive.
- Jesus told the disciples in last week’s texts, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
But all these “Don’t be afraid” texts don’t tell us how to get there. How do we stop being afraid?
This week, I talked with some of the children in my congregation. And I admitted something: I am afraid—terrified—of windmills. It’s irrational, ridiculous even. But every time I drive by a windmill on the Pennsylvania turnpike, I shudder, give them a stern look, and tell them to stay put.
My friends and kids think this is hilarious. Who on earth is afraid of windmills? But, admitting what we’re afraid of is important. By naming our fears, we say to our fears that they have no power.
But, even when the fears are named, we still need comfort.
How do our children feel comfort? What works for my kids is “snuggle time”. Even at age nine and twelve, they need a little every day—it seems to drive away the fear and the anxiety, and give them a safe place to come back to every day.
I use that snuggle time to talk about our day—the good and bad parts—and sometimes even what they wish they could have done differently. And during those difficult and wonderful conversations, they know they are loved unconditionally by me.
Snuggle time doesn’t work for every child. But you know what works for yours. What are the fears that your children have? And how can we—their parents and guardians—comfort those fears?
Jesus told us, Peace I leave with you, peace I give you. Do not be afraid. That is difficult for us to learn as adults, and that lesson comes slowly. The peace of Christ comes when we face are fears, and realize they aren’t as terrible as we once thought. The peace of Christ comes in knowing that we are loved unconditionally by God.
Let’s commit together to talk to our children about their fears, to give them love and comfort, so that they can face their fears, just as we face ours. Our imperfect, human love and comfort for them gives them a glimpse into the perfect peace and comfort of Christ.