It was Easter that finished Sunday School for me. I had liked Easter. We got Easter eggs and Dad would take a day off.
I had liked Sunday School, too. Our teacher was adorable and her stories about Jesus were wonderful.
On the wall was a picture of Jesus. He looked very kind. His long hair and dress struck me as odd but his beard and piercing blue eyes made up for the hair and the dress. He seemed very wise and caring.
It was Easter at Sunday School that stumped and frightened me.
I couldn't believe that they nailed Jesus on the Cross by his hands and feet and left him hanging there until he died. It was the cruelest thing I had heard of. The crucifixion's horror haunted me. I could not comprehend, as a little boy, that people could purposely hurt another person so terribly.
Besides, Jesus had done nothing wrong.
Our lovely Sunday School teacher said that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I didn't think that I had been that bad. I also couldn't see how Jesus dying in agony could make up for anything that I had done wrong. Jesus died long before I was born, let alone before I was naughty.
Our minister told us that God was all-powerful and all-knowing and that Jesus was his son. God sent his son because he loved us, the minister said. I liked that. I thought that was wonderful because Jesus was such a good man. And with Jesus we got such good stories.
No one at Sunday School liked Judas. He gave Jesus up. It was doubly despicable that he took money for doing so. Judas was presented as the epitome of badness.
But what would have happened if Judas had hidden Jesus? I remember thinking that if Jesus had escaped we would not be Christians sitting in Sunday School. Jesus escaping wasn't part of God's plan.
It seemed to me Judas must have been directed by God to turn Jesus in. And if God didn't direct him, then he certainly knew what Judas was up to. God could easily have arranged for Jesus to escape. He was all-powerful and all-knowing.
But he didn't.
Then, in his agony, Jesus forgave his torturers and tormentors. That to me was the best Jesus story of them all. I couldn't believe that Jesus did that. I knew Jesus could have rained down hell if he had chosen to. He was the son of God. He could do that. Instead, he took his punishment. And forgave his punishers.
I thought the soldiers would give up when Jesus forgave them. But it moved them not a bit. They pressed on, oblivious to how wrong and evil they were. I was left wondering what happened to the soldiers. Are they burning in hell? Or were they just doing what God wanted? I could not figure it all out.
But the part that finished me for Sunday School was when the minister said that the torture and death of Jesus proved how much God loved us. I hated it.
There was nothing good for me about Good Friday. That was the day Jesus was tortured and died. And Easter Sunday was no better.
God had Jesus suffer terribly only to return him to Heaven where he started from.
After Sunday School that Easter I confided in my classmate that I wanted nothing to do with anyone who would make their son suffer like that.
The fathers I knew were big, tough men. They were strong. But they used their strength and toughness to look after women and children. They wouldn't hurt them. I was very innocent. Back then I couldn't imagine a father hurting a son.