Is there any holiday that is richer for Christians than Easter (or Resurrection Sunday, to be precise)? The celebration that encompasses so much: our salvation, our rescue, Jesus’ resurrection, our reconciliation to God, Jesus’ victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave…the list goes on and on. It is the most important day in the history of the world. Celebrating it is our privilege and our joy.
And as parents we walk in this tension: we want our kids to have the fun Easter offers (egg dyeing and hunts, Easter baskets), but we don’t want to lose the meaning and the JOY of the day. Last year, we started some traditions that are fun and meaningful ways to celebrate the resurrection and all it holds.
The Empty Tomb
On Good Friday, we will head outside to make a garden. Here is the one we did last year.
While we gather leaves and branches from the yard, we will talk about the day. What were Jesus’ friends feeling? Why is the day called Good Friday? What happened when Jesus died? What did the disciples think had happened? We will also talk about why no flowers are allowed in the garden. Flowers are for happiness, and this is a sad, sad day. This garden (dirt in a bowl with a hollow potato as the tomb) will become our centerpiece for the next few days. And the plants will begin to wilt and die. Saturday night, we will look at it again, talking about how long it must have seemed from Friday to Sunday, and how sad the garden looks.
Saturday night while the kids are sleeping, I will remove the wilted leaves and plants, replacing them with flowers. And I will open the “tomb.” Joy! He is risen! When the kids wake up in Easter Sunday, they will see flowers for happiness, and an empty tomb. Here is what it looked like last year:
We have debated Easter baskets every year until last year. While we wanted to do them because they’re fun, we’ve also been hesitant since we don’t want Easter Sunday morning to be more exciting because of stuff than because of the Resurrected Lord. But last year, we hit upon a good way to bring symbolism to the baskets. As Jeremy said, even if the kids end up thinking this is corny, at least they’ll know we tried to bring the gospel into everything.
We each took five rocks and put them in our Easter baskets. Then one by one, we took them out, naming a sin for each rock, and dropped them into one basket we called Jesus’ basket, showing how He takes our sin. Then we covered Jesus’ basket with a red cloth, because He covers our sins with His blood. So now our Easter baskets were empty.
The next morning, they were full of good things–because Jesus takes our sins and gives us good things instead. It turned out to be a good, meaningful, and humbling exercise that reminded us all of our sin and the goodness of Jesus.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
(If you’ve never heard of or read this book, you must. It tells the stories of the Bible in a way that ties each one to Jesus. It’s beautiful and rich.) This year, we’re adding a new tradition. Starting today (Maundy Thursday), we’re reading the pages in the Jesus Storybook Bible that go along with that day. Here’s the breakdown:
Maundy Thursday: The Servant King, A Dark Night in the Garden
Good Friday: The Sun Stops Shining
Easter Sunday: God’s Wonderful Surprise
Today’s reading brought tears to my eyes. “But this is how God will rescue the whole world. My life will break and God’s broken world will mend. My heart will tear apart–and your hearts will heal. Just as the passover lamb died, so now I will die instead of you…”
This one we haven’t tried yet, though I’d like to. There is such symbolism in the cutting and piercing of the dough, and then breaking the bread afterwards. This recipe looked good and fairly easy. While we’re not celebrating the Passover this year (although we have in the past and have loved it), this would be a good way to connect the dots between the passover lamb and the Passover Lamb.
I hope this gives you some ideas for ways to celebrate! What Easter traditions do you have? Please share!