“You have to come and speak to Bridget! Your unfinished lesson last week in Sunday School so upset her.”
The words of the frustrated mother on the other end of the phone took me by surprise. “Unfinished?”
What could be wrong with her cute little daughter who sparkled with the joy of living? She had seemed happy enough in class last week.
Over the past four weeks, I had been telling my Sunday School class of eight and nine-year-olds the story of Jesus’ last week on earth. As a story-teller I had put myself into the scenes, bringing out the drama and tension as far as I thought was wise for such young children.
The previous Sunday I had taught them about the crucifixion, ending at the point where Jesus had died. Unfinished? I suppose so, but only so that they’d be keen to come back the next week for the sequel.
I was careful to tell the story as simply as possible, not wanting to scare the children with the gory details, but at the same time I wanted them to understand that from a human point of view, Jesus was dead. After all, how would they appreciate the incredible miracle of the resurrection if they didn’t accept He had first really died. I ended on a positive note—I thought.
“That’s not the end of the story!” I assured them. “Come back next week and hear what happens next!”
They had all left laughing and shoving each other, racing to be the first out the door. I tried to remember if Bridget had been among the happy gang of hooligans. I couldn’t remember.
When I arrived at her home, her mother came out to greet me. She told me how her daughter had returned from Sunday School distraught. When it came to saying her prayers that night, she didn’t want to say them. “Jesus is dead!” she sobbed. Nothing her mother could say would reassure her. Aunty Shirley had said Jesus was dead, so He was dead.
What was the point of praying?
Why say grace at mealtimes? Jesus wasn’t there any more. After several days of trying to reason with the child, her mother decided to get me over to sort out the mess I’d created by telling an unfinished rendition of the Easter Story!
I sat outside in the garden nursing a glass of cold lemonade as I told the little girl the next part of what happened that first Easter. I watched as she narrowed her blue eyes for a moment. Suddenly I saw a spark flash in her eyes as they widened in amazement.
“You mean, he’s alive?”
“Yes, He’s alive,” I assured her. “And He’s watching over you right now. He loves you so much.”
As I took my leave of the precious little girl and her relieved mother, I marveled at the reality of that child’s faith. When had I last been broken-hearted over the torture and death of my Lord? Had I become so used to the Easter story that I’d got used to glossing over the details?
How I rejoiced that I’d been able to assure Bridget that Jesus was very much alive. I resolved there and then never to leave Jesus hanging on a cross “until next week’s thrilling instalment.” Never again would I leave the story of Jesus unfinished!
Yes, Jesus died. He died on that cruel cross for me. But the story didn’t end there. He’s alive!