Getting Beyond the Bunny: How We Can Celebrate Christ at EasterAshley Chesnut
At our staff meeting last week, we got into groups and were given several questions that everyone in the group was to answer. Two of the questions involved what our family’s Easter traditions were and what we remember about Easter services that we attended when we were younger. New clothes, Cadbury eggs, Easter baskets, Sunday lunches, sunrise services, and Easter egg hunts were all mentioned, but one staff member in our group commented on how few traditions there are that families practice at Easter that actually reflect the reason for the holiday, especially in contrast to Christmas. When we consider that Easter represents the defining moment of the Christian faith – the death and resurrection of Christ, shouldn’t we live, prepare, and celebrate this day in a way that reflects its importance? As singles, couples, or parents, how can we approach this holiday in a way that enables us to reflect on what Christ has accomplished? Included below are several ideas that you can consider.
- Celebrate Lent. I did not grow up keeping Lent, so it was a new concept to me when I went off to seminary. So in case you thought "Lent" is that stuff found in your jean pockets (or your belly button), let me give you a short summary. Lent begins 40 days prior to Easter on Ash Wednesday, and it comes from the Old English word meaning "lengthen" since Lent occurs at a time of year when the days are lengthening. Believers use Lent as a time to repent of sin, to remember our need for Christ our Savior, and to renew our love and devotion to God. Often, believers will fast during Lent in order to express dependence on God. Whether as an individual, a family, or as a small group, consider fasting during Lent or during Holy Week, whether it's a traditional fast involving food or a fast from TV, social media, etc. For more about Lent, read this post from The Gospel Coalition's blog.
- Read about the Events of Passion Week from the Gospels during Holy Week. This would be something you could do starting today. Each day this week, read what Jesus did on that corresponding day during Passion Week (the week leading up to His crucifixion). Use this time to meditate on what Christ did 2000 years ago and to thank Him for choosing to sacrifice Himself for sinners. If you have a Family Worship time, this could be what you do for this week, and the Jesus Storybook Bible could be a helpful resource in telling this story to little ones. Something that I am doing this year during Holy Week is reading the daily meditations put out by Gordon Conwell, which you can read at this site.
- Attend Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter services. For those at Brook Hills, we have Secret Church on Good Friday, which you can be a part of via simulcast if you don't have a ticket. Many churches have one or all of the services mentioned above. Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, and "Maundy" stems from the Latin word for "mandate" or "commandment," which refers to the commandment Jesus gave to His followers at the Last Supper in John 13:34-35. Many churches celebrate by observing the Lord's Supper as Jesus did with the Twelve on Thursday, the night of the Passover meal that John 13 describes. On Good Friday, we remember Jesus' death, which took place on the Friday of Passion Week (read this previous BH Women post on "The Good in Good Friday"), and on Easter, we celebrate His resurrection. If you're planning to attend Brook Hills this Easter, our Worship Gatherings will be at 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:00am, and 6:30pm, and we will only have childcare for birth-3 years. Whatever church you attend, be praying for those who are unbelievers and who will be attending Easter services this Sunday. Pray that God will draw sinners to Himself and that they will turn from their sin and trust in Christ, and consider who God would have you invite to an Easter service this Sunday.
- Listen to songs and hymns about Christ's death and resurrection. Use them to guide your praise of Jesus this week. If you're like me and spend a good bit of time on 280 every day, it's a good way to take that time and "set your mind on things above" (Col. 3:2). Here are a few of my faves: "Hallelujah, What a Savior," "In Christ Alone," "Jesus Paid It All," "How Deep the Father's Love for Us," "Before the Throne of God Above," "It Is Well," and "O Love that Will Not Let Me Go."
- Watch The Passion of the Christ or the Jesus film. I can sometimes have a difficult time visualizing what I read, so pictures and movies are helpful for me when trying to get an idea of what something might have been like. While neither of these movies perfectly capture what Christ did, they can be helpful in expressing the gravity of the cross and the excruciating torture that Christ experienced. If you have young children, you may want to view the move for yourself in order to decide whether the images are age-appropriate for you kids.
- If you have children (or even if you don't), consider making resurrection rolls, Easter story cookies, resurrection trees, or using resurrection eggs (I'll go ahead and warn you that some of these are Pinterest ideas). When I taught kindergardeners at church, we would take marshmallows and roll them in crescent rolls and talk about how, when Jesus died, some of His followers placed His body in a tomb. Then we would bake the crescent rolls, and when we took them out of the oven, we would unroll the crescent rolls only to find no marshmallow because it had melted. I would use this object lesson to demonstrate how Jesus stayed in this tomb for three days, but on the third day, He no longer was dead inside the tomb. He left the tomb because He is risen! All of these activities are concrete ways that you can explain various aspects of the Easter story with kids.