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Easter Matters: Exciting Ways to Celebrate with Your Family

      I have previously written about the joy of preparing through Advent season for the birth of Jesus with nightly family devotions, supported by interactive activities or events. There is so much time spent preparing for Christmas in America that it has become the dominant Christian holiday—but Easter matters. Without it we have no hope.

     Of course Christ had to be born before He could die, but in His death He took our sin, and in His resurrection He proved His divinity. We must not let these critical facts of our faith fly by every year without focused attention. Of course if you follow Christ you already have Easter inked into your calendar, because even those who do not walk daily with Jesus will fill the chairs or pews with you twice a year, won’t they? They have earned the moniker “Chreasters” because of their obligatory Christmas/Easter church attendance.

     But if you are one whose desire is to daily walk with Jesus then you can make this season one full of greater depth and meaning beyond that crowded Sunday morning service. Please, please make it more for your children than a story of an animated Peter Cottontail who secretly delivers a colorful basket or colorful eggs tucked into colorful plastic grass!

     The secular celebration of Advent at Christmastime often includes the popping open of cardboard doors in a 25-day calendar where little sugary (typically chocolate) treats await the watering mouths of your children. But, are they anticipating Jesus’ birth through that nightly activity, or the sweet? If you play your hand right, Momma, maybe both! So it is with Lent.

The Significance of Celebrating Lent

     Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and lasts 40 days excluding Sundays (considered “feast days”). It is meant to be a season of focus and fasting. As so many heroes of our faith spent 40 days of focus, Christians worldwide set aside the 40 days before Easter Sunday to fast in one way or another. During that time, some make the concerted effort to take on a new habit which will enhance their outreach to non Christians. Some intently focus on their own journey with Christ.

     Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert. Elijah fasted for 40 days. Moses spent 40 days away from those he’d led to the desert, to hear from God on Mount Sinai. We can study all of these biblical testimonies and more through this season of Lent.

     At the time of this publication the full 40-day experience is already well underway (including typical Lent fasts like the Facebook one I take, and about which I previously wrote). But you can decide today to bring the resurrection home to your children in the days that remain, so that they can absorb the richest meaning of this holiday, which is the crux of our faith.

Traditional Ways with a Meaningful Focus

     To that point, I am not discouraging the basket & the Easter eggs. But, look for a moment to talk about how the egg represents new birth and that by hiding the egg we’re metaphorically talking about how Christ was hidden in the grave but then rose again (so, we find the egg where it is hidden, as his body was hidden). Our brightly colored eggs & the newness of spring are presented in a brightly wrapped basket, representing joy, because nothing in the world should bring us more joy than understanding the resurrection!

Some Exciting Ways to Celebrate Easter Season

     Another idea is to surprise your children with a new book—spend some time choosing this & present it right after dinnertime, with excitement in your voice as you share that during the days between now and Easter your family is going to hone in on the purpose of this holiday. Read ahead of your children and look for opportunities to bring activities alive through a nightly devotional time very like you might during Advent. Write in the margins—personalize the experience to make it your own.

Discover A  Meaningful Book

     I highly recommend Susan & Richie Hunt’s book, “Discovering Jesus in Genesis” as an example, because it has 36 chapters—appropriate for the length of Lent. In it two siblings, Cassie and Caleb, walk through the exciting discovery of treasures in Scripture with a helpful Christian neighbor. You can purchase a special notebook for each participating child and allow them to decorate the pages as you walk through the book, learning clues about Truths in God’s Word. This book isn't specifically meant to be used at Easter but it is very interactive, includes Scripture memorization, gives a full sense of all of God’s Word leading up to Christ’s life, and easily lends itself to further study.

     As it shares the Truth of Christ, it shares Easter. We followed the shortbread recipe in one chapter and my children’s automatic response was to make the cookies so we could share them with our neighbors. That is Easter Christians’ outreach! I love when my children grab hold of something like that—follow-through is critical!

Make a Festive Bracelet

     A dear mentoring friend of mine gave me a bracelet in my early days as a Believer, made up of the beads colored to symbolize the story of our faith. There are several variations on this theme, and bracelets can be handmade or purchased for children, or adults (with one online made of Swarovski crystals!) Each colored bead should be touched and talked about—some I’ve seen have the colors black for our sin, red for his blood, white for His purity, yellow for His royalty, green for our new life in Him, etc.. These can be found many places online, or at your local Christian book retailer (or, as stated, strung together as an at-home project during the period of Lent).

Fill Resurrection Eggs

     Another tool we love at Easter is “Resurrection Eggs .” You can buy the commercial version or have your children make their own with an egg carton they paint and decorate themselves. Inside are 12 plastic eggs which each contain some object that reminds us of the Easter testimony—the Internet has many suggestions for objects you can choose to fill the eggs, so be creative.

     Ours has a small donkey for Palm Sunday, coins to talk about Judas’ betrayal, a rock to represent the stone that was rolled in front of the tomb—and last of all, an empty egg to demonstrate that He is no longer dead inside! The point is to have the children handle items that remind them of Jesus’ biography, and why it matters to all of us. My kids have reached for ours & taken it outside to present to the neighborhood children! Anything that encourages our children to witness is a keeper in my book.

Use Descriptive Easter Vocabulary

     Children know what sin is, because even before the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the heart of a Believer, there is a God-placed conscience in each of us that reveals to our hearts when we have done something out of God’s order. Even more so for those who have received Jesus! We parents need to freely use the term “sin” to identify these wrongs so that children can understand why they need a Savior. Speak openly about sin. Use Jesus’ name freely. The vocabulary of their childhoods will inform their adult lives, so do not shy away from the words that our world rejects. This is the season to get very real with your children about Who Christ Said He Is.

Rise Early for Easter Morning

     If your church offers a sunrise service I highly recommend that you commit now to shake everyone awake to attend. In the early days of the church Christians met the evening before Easter and prayed through the night, not only seeing in the new Easter morning, but watching the darkness fall before the sunrise. Don’t let this be the day you choose the last service! Rise with Easter on your hearts! At the very least we can drive into the parking lot with headlights on, and see the sunbeams streak into the building as we meet with others who have come to worship the Redeemer on Easter morning.

Reveal a Risen Redeemer in Your Heart

     And now, whenever I even think of the word “Redeemer” I hear Nicole C. Mullen in my head. Play her song, “Redeemer” for your children. Allow yourself to melt into it as you listen to the lyrics—“let all Creation testify, let this life within me cry! I know my Redeemer lives!” I have a difficult time making it through that song without tearing up! My children should see that His redemptive sacrifice for my sins moves me to weep. They will learn of Christ’s realness through your authentic display of love for Him. This is the season to let your love hang all out. Seek moments to bring the Truths of Jesus home to the little ones.

Bake Easter Resurrection Cookies Together

     Finally, one thing my children enjoy very much at Easter is the baking of Resurrection cookies. We follow a very strict diet throughout most of the year, but Easter (and all the Sundays during Lent) gives us reason for feasting & celebration—even on some of those “forbidden” treats (if your family can tolerate them for a day). Resurrection cookies break the Lenten fast in a celebratory way. They are baked the evening before Easter and stay tucked in the dark oven all night (we actually tape the oven symbolically closed). In the morning the cookies have risen and are hollow inside where marshmallows have melted, so they represent the empty tomb! And, oh! How sweet they taste. Just like our faith! Look for directions in a companion article in this issue.

Enjoy a Happy Easter Celebration!

     These are just a few Lenten activities you can incorporate right now into the days that still fall between today and Easter. Next year an earlier article will detail the many Holy days between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Sunday and some more “religious” practices which have given my faith great depth. Just remember, Lent is a time of preparation that should supersede all the preparation of Christmas. I pray you will find ways to bring lessons of Salvation and Redemption home to your children, and to your own soul this Easter season!

"He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying." - Matthew 28:6 (NLT)

Copyright © 2008-2015 Lisandrea Wentland

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