Two of my favorite holidays are Christmas and Easter. Not because of the candy and presents, but because of that little baby, Jesus, and all that He's done for you and me. I strive to keep holidays simple, fun - and meaningful more than anything. Here are a few things we do as a family to celebrate and remember Christ's sacrifice and love at Easter.
I bought the Family Life Resurrection Eggs at Lifeway this week (on sale) and we love it! We started a little late this year, but next year we'll start 12 days before Easter. The kids take turns opening one egg each day. Each egg holds a "memory-grabbing" surprise and - along with the storybook - takes you on a journey through Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. It's a powerful tool, for all ages. The symbols really make His story come to life.
Easter Bible Study
In BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), I got a handout with tips on planning our own Easter Bible study at home. Using the outline they've given, we study the Eastor story with family devotions each night the week leading up to Easter Sunday - and I hang the main truths on our kitchen cabinets to remember.
I. Read Mark 14:32-50.
THE ARREST IN THE GARDEN
1. Jesus knew what was going to happen, but He did not run away or hide.
2. Jesus wanted to do what God, His Father, wanted Him to do.
II. Read Mark 14:53-15:15
1. Jesus had done nothing wrong.
2. God was in complete control. It was God's plan for Jesus to die.
III. Read Mark 15:16-32
1. Jesus could have gotten off the cross, but He did not. He knew God wanted Him to be there, and He obeyed God.
2. Jesus suffered for our sins. The soldiers hurt Jesus.
IV. Read Mark 15:33-47
JESUS' DEATH AND BURIAL
1. Jesus died on the cross. He died because He loves us and wants us to go to heaven.
2. Only people who love and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will go to heaven.
3. Jesus' friends took His dead body and laid it in a tomb.
V. Read Matthew 28:1-10
1. God made Jesus come alive again.
2. Because Jesus came alive, all people who believe in Him will live forever with Him.
3. Many people saw Jesus and talked to Him after His resurrection.
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. cinnamon and 3 Tbsp. sugar (mixed together)
Before we start, we read Matthew 27-28 aloud, which reminds us of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. The kids are given four marshmallows each (which represents Jesus - all white and pure since he was without sin.) They roll the marshmallows in melted butter (which symbolizes the embalming oils) and cinnamon and sugar (which represents the spices used to prepare his body for burial.) Then, they wrap the marshmallows in crescent roll triangles (which represents the cloth Jesus was wrapped in.) We place them in the oven (which symbolizes the tomb) at 375 degrees and seal the tomb with a big rock (the oven door.) Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until crescents are light golden brown and puffy.
We open the tomb, remove the rolls and break them open. Lo, and behold, the tomb is empty - He is risen! Jesus is alive! It's a great visual reminder of what Christ has done - and they're pretty yummy too.
For the week leading up to Easter, we sit down with the kids and read the Peek-a-Bible Easter Story by Tracy Harrast and the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Both are really great at grabbing the kids' attention and telling the story of Jesus.
We still color eggs, gather candy-filled plastic eggs for egg hunts and fill baskets for the kids to open Easter morning. The kids wear cute, color-coordinated outfits to church each year. But, when you get down to it - all that cutesy stuff doesn't matter. What's most important is God's never-ending love and His ultimate sacrifice for each one of us. The grace and mercy He willingly bestows, even though we're all a big mess inside and we let Him down time after time after time.
He is a forgiving God. He is a good God. He is a loving God. Standing right here with open arms. Ready to wash you white as snow.
And that's the Easter story I hope my children always remember. A story of redemption, love and hope for us all.