It is hard to know how to speak to children about Good Friday. But stories seem a good way to attempt to communicate with children.

So, for at least each of the past ten years, I have tried to write a story to share something with our children at St. Philip about the nature of this difficult day. Here is this year’s attempt:

Tommy’s Really Bad Day
2018 Good Friday Children’s Story C. Page

It was a bad day. It was not just your average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill bad day. This was a truly terrible, absolutely awful, horribly horrible, really bad, bad day.

It started early in the morning. Everyone was still asleep except Tommy. And Tommy was hungry. So, Tommy went to the kitchen, that’s where the food is. He got out a bowl and a spoon and lifted down the big cereal box from the cupboard. He poured cereal into the bowl on the kitchen table. Then he went to the fridge and took out the milk. Tommy poured the milk so carefully into his bowl that he did not spill even a single drop.

But, when Tommy was putting the milk carton back in the fridge he heard a terrible noise. It was his sister Jane. Jane was three-years-old and, in Tommy’s world, Jane was spelled T-R-O-U-B-L-E, trouble.

While Tommy had his back turned, Jane had come into the kitchen, climbed up onto a chair and started eating his cereal. Then Jane bumped the bowl with her elbow. The bowl fell and smashed on the kitchen floor. There was cereal and milk and broken bits of bowl everywhere. This was starting out to be a truly terrible day.

It should have been a good day. It was even called Good Friday and Tommy had the day off from school. All week he had been planning to have a play date with his friend Geoff. But, then after breakfast Tommy’s mummy reminded him that he had to get dressed in church clothes because it was Good Friday and they were all going to church in the morning. And, the really terrible part was that, after church they had to take Jane to her ballet class and wait for a whole hour for her to finish and then come home and then have lunch and then Jane had to have a nap.  So, there would be no time for Geoff to come over to play with Tommy that day. This was not a good day at all; it was a bad day.

Then on the way to church, Tommy wanted to listen to his music in the car. And it was his day to choose.  So, it should have been a good day and he should have been able to listen to the music he wanted. But Jane screamed and whined so much because she wanted her music that finally Tommy’s Dad just switched the CD player to Jane’s music and everyone had to listen to her kiddie songs. This was turning into the worst day.

It is not that Tommy minded going to church. Once he got there he didn’t think about the cereal anymore which his mum had cleaned up right away. And Tommy forgot about his play date with Geoff. Tommy didn’t even really care about Jane’s music.

Tommy remembered that on Good Friday he and his church friends got to carry a big cross into church and put it up at the front for everyone to see. Tommy loved carrying the cross into church; it felt serious and important.

This year he hoped he would get to walk at the front of the cross leading the way. But, the Sunday School teacher asked Jane to lead the way this year. And there were so many kids in church that Tommy had to follow behind the cross while Jane walked right up front. There was nothing good about this Good Friday.

When they got the cross to the front of the church and put it in its place, all the children sat down around the cross. They sat really still and were very quiet. They knew this was a serious moment. They were remembering that Jesus died on a cross because people hated him and did not want to hear the message of love that he came to share.

Tommy thought, this must have been a really bad day for Jesus. Everyone had been so mean to Jesus and it seemed like they all wanted him to suffer and die. But Tommy knew that Jesus was a good man who only tried to help people be more loving. Tommy could not understand why anyone would want to hurt Jesus.

Tommy looked at the other children at the front of the church and saw his sister Jane. She was sitting very still with a serious look on her little face. Tommy thought about the spilled cereal, and the play date with Geoff, and Jane’s dumb music, and Jane getting to walk at the front of the cross. Tommy felt angry; he thought Jane was nothing but trouble.

Then the choir started to sing. The music sounded so sad, the way Tommy felt inside. Tommy listened to the words of the song. They were words Jesus said when he was on the cross. Jesus looked down at all the people who wanted to hurt him and he prayed for them.

The choir sang:

Father forgive them; Father forgive them;
Father forgive them; Father forgive them;
Forgive them, they know not what they do.

Even though the people were trying to hurt Jesus he still wanted God to love them.

As Tommy listened to the music, he went all quiet inside. He felt something warm and soft in his chest. He wondered if maybe this feeling was connected to the love Jesus came to share and that this love was even bigger than a truly terrible, absolutely awful, horribly horrible, really bad, bad day.

When the choir finished singing, the children stood to go back to their places with the adults. As Tommy walked down the aisle of the church, he felt a little hand in his. He looked down and saw that Jane had taken his hand.

When Tommy looked at Jane something strange happened. That warm gentle feeling Tommy had when the choir sang seemed to bubble up and spill over to include his little sister even though she caused so much trouble.

Suddenly, Tommy felt that maybe this Good Friday wasn’t such a truly terrible, absolutely awful, horribly horrible, really bad, bad day after all. Tommy thought that maybe the love Jesus showed is stronger than all the things that had gone wrong with his day. Then Tommy remembered that soon it would be Easter.