Welcome to Grace and Space, a weekly newsletter from the Deconstructing Mamas Podcast! GRACE for who you have been, are now and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be!
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Our next guest has a newsletter where she actually answers questions from kids and sometimes their parents. Here's one snippet from her newsletter from two weeks ago (she's tackling six weeks of Easter and this is the first one):
Yup. We’re going to take on this teensy question of what, exactly, Jesus’ death and resurrection mean.
If your background is very individualistic (“Jesus died just for you”) or if you’ve been told “sin must be punished” (a fundamental assumption of what’s called penal substitutionary atonement) then you’ll find this especially helpful. Because neither are true, and we want better answers for our kids.
The fact is, the Bible gives LOTS of answers about why Jesus coming, dying, rising are good news–answers I find beautiful and hopeful. Answers that speak to the world we actually live in, not just a heaven we hope to rise to after we die. This variety of answers sometimes get called a “kaleidoscopic view” of the atonement. (Atonement: fancy theology word for how God through Christ reconciles the world.) So here we go!
You Asked: Why exactly did Jesus have to die? Because the answers I grew up with either don’t make sense anymore, or I’m not comfortable passing them on to my kids, or both.
What, God as bloodthirsty tyrant who makes his own son die so that we could go to heaven isn’t the message you want your kid taking away about things?
This question, or something like it, is among the most common things I get asked, which is understandable given that this is kind of the core of our faith we’re talking about.
The simplest answer I tell kids is this, “When Jesus came, he said God was doing a new thing. Jesus called this new thing “the kingdom.” The Romans didn’t like him because they already had a king, so Jesus was a threat. Some of the religious leaders didn’t like him because he claimed to speak for God, and that was unacceptable. But Jesus stuck to what he came to do and say, showing people who God was in a new way, and the powerful people were not going to let him keep doing and saying those things and live.”
In other words, Jesus had to die because he scared the Roman and Jewish leadership during a time in history when doing that was a death sentence. You simply couldn’t say the things Jesus said and survive for very long, as many other so-called messiahs found out around the same time.
But that isn’t really what this sort of question is asking. We’ve been told that Jesus’ death and resurrection were “good news”, but the way that good news is explained doesn’t always seem, well, good.
I believe you’re uncomfortable with the version of the gospel you learned as a kid not because you’ve wandered off the faithful path, but because there are elements of that story that just don’t mesh with who we know God to be from other parts of the Bible. And so we feel that tension; it makes us uncomfortable; we feel like there must be a better answer out there.
And there is! Well, there are better answers, plural, out there. Because, like I said, the Bible doesn’t talk about the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection in just one way. There are multiple images, metaphors, analogies, and explanations that are used in different places in the Bible. --Meredith Miller
This Week on the Podcast: Meredith Miller, mom, children's pastor and soon-to-be author of a legit book coming out in August titled Woven: Nurturing a Faith Your Kid Doesn't Have to Heal From, is with us this week. Meredith has over 20 years experience in children’s ministry and curriculum. In 2019 she and her husband Curtis started a small church on Zoom that wants to live the one-anothers, neighbor well, and do justice. And eat.
For the 5 years prior she was Curriculum Director for the children’s ministry at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Illinois, where she created the framework for lessons that responds to the latest research on kids and faith formation.
Meredith holds a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary, as well as a B.A. in Religious Studies and Spanish Language & Literature from Westmont College. We know that all sounds super churchy and slightly religious, but rest-assured, Meredith is a breath of fresh air when it comes to how to engage with our kids and their faith journeys. Her powerful message on this episode of our kids' belovedness as an image-bearer and how we subsequently approach our parenting is so healing. She also taps into the ways we need to heal as adults and parents from the fear and shame and guilt that has been poured on us from toxic power structures and fundamentalist religious systems. The biggest question that kids are actually wrestling with deep-down inside and we tackle on this episode is this one, "Is God a Safe Grownup?" Why does that question matter and what can we do about it? If you are holding onto your faith (and perhaps God or Jesus) with all your might, but don't really know what to do next with your kiddos, this podcast episode is really for you. You can find Meredith at the following:
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Resource Alert (and a SPECIAL COUPON CODE):
Meredith Miller, our podcast guest, is a fountain of knowledge, gentleness and resources for an evolving faith and parenting.
She has all kinds of very practical resources right HERE for EASTER and if you use the promo code "MAMA30," you will get 30% off everything in her amazing SHOP. She also has a Bible story podcast for kids called Ask Away, where kids can ask anything about the Bible. Join Meredith as she and her kids explore a Bible Story and then talk about questions sent in by kid-listeners! AND she has a podcast for us parents too called I Kid You Not!
If that's not enough for you, you can get her newsletter every week by signing up right HERE. We get it and it's filled with all kinds of extra goodies that you won't find on Instagram!! Last, but not least, take a minute and PRE-ORDER her upcoming book RIGHT HERE so that it lands in your mailbox as soon as it's available.
Can't wait until Tuesday and need just a little snippet from our podcast episode. Here's something to whet your appetite and hold you over until then!!
One last thing. We want to remind you that we are so glad you are here. We wouldn't be the same without you. You will always find GRACE for where you've been and who you are now, and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be.
Carry on, our new-found friends. Welcome to the twisty-windy, full -of-adventure faith path that's laid out before us all. Love,
Lizz & Esther P.S. SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER HERE!