As parents and relatives, we want our children to reach their full potential. We cling to the verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6) believing our efforts will contribute to their success. We want to give them the best start in life first by assuring them of our love and continuing by delicately introducing them to the world in which we live. We sing to them and lovingly caress them when rocking them to sleep. But what messages are we sending, what assurances are we providing and what kind of world are we portraying in the nursery rhymes we sing? Have you ever stopped and read the words? One of the earliest nursery rhymes we sing is "Rock a bye baby, on the tree top, when the wind blows the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all." What's the message? In our soft singsong voice we're confidently telling them your world isn't stable and will fall apart when the storms of life sweep over you like a hurricane.
We also tell them there are lots of scary things out there. "Little Miss Muffet" warns creepy things will invade your space when you least expect it. Be on the lookout for spiders that will crawl up beside you when you're eating. That's enough to scare adults much less than children! "Eensy, Weensy Spider" says creepy things will always pop up again even when you think the danger is over. The rain may have washed the spider out but once the sun comes out, the spider emerges and is off again to scare little Miss Muffet away.
Apparently cruel bloody violence is the solution to creepy things. "Three Blind Mice" met their doom when they encountered the farmer's wife. "They all ran after the farmer’s wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life as three blind mice?" It must have been gory! Children laugh but it helps make horror movies featuring Freddy Krueger more acceptable and even enjoyable. Though we want to encourage children to step out bravely into the world, we undermine that message with the dangerous story of "Jack and Jill." The message: You'll have some major upsets that will take you down and ruin you, perhaps kill you. Worse, you might cause others to suffer your fate. That's good news?
What other messages are in children's stories? Don't trust anyone. You're not as secure as you think you are, because there are wolves out there threatening to huff and puff and destroy all you've built. Your kindly grandmother has turned into a big, bad wolf and the neighbor who offers you sweets like gingerbread may actually be a cannibal. She could have been Dr. Hannibal Lecter's mother. Let's face it, we're not doing a good job of creating confident children. To top matters off, we tell them to give up trying to repair your life because some things can never be fixed as we assert "all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again."
There are stories in the bible that are tragic, but the primary message of LOVE is wrapped up in the person of Jesus. This is no fairy tale or nursery rhyme. The powerful story of love is clearly demonstrated on Good Friday. Our future has been secured by Christ's death. Jesus' resurrection is proof that the horror of death is temporary. The creepy things in life such as sickness, pain, sorrow and death will finally be eradicated upon OUR resurrection. Nothing can stop us, NOTHING! I join Paul in declaring, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39 NLT)
Easter is the ultimate triumph of love over destruction, truth over lies, hope over despair, forgiveness over condemnation and life over death. All things have been restored. We have put our trust in King Jesus who (without the help of horses or men) has put us back together again in right relationship with God. Instead of singing "Rock a bye Baby," over and over again let's sing "Jesus Loves Me This I Know." As adults this enables us to boldly proclaim "on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand."