Sunday, April 3, 2011
Keeping Jesus in Easter
We have had family devotions that have worked. And then we have had many more that have ended up in disaster. I could tell you more stories about the times that our expectations were too high, times we were too tired, and times when we ended up just plain lecturing. One memorable night we even had popcorn flying, people crying, and parents repenting. Not the kind of sweet family together time you've always dreamed of.
But then there's Easter.
Easter is my favorite holiday. It truly is a holy day, the most holiest. Without Easter, there would be no purpose for Christmas. There would be no real thanks in Thanksgiving. All the other days in between would be meaningless and hopeless.
Some years back when our children were very small we started a very simple Easter tradition during Holy Week. It went something like this. On Palm Sunday we would come home from church and act out Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Doug would be the donkey, and the kids would take turns pretending to be Jesus and ride on his back. We would lay our coats on the floor, wave paper palm branches, and shout "Hosanna!"
Later in the week on Maundy Thursday, we would spread a picnic blanket on the floor of our living room and each a supper of bread, cheese, nuts, and fruits. We would talk about how Jesus shared the cup of wine with his disciples and told them it was his blood. He broke the bread and declared that it was his body. Our family would eat french baguettes together and drink grape juice as we remembered this special supper Jesus had with his friends. Then, according to the John 13 account, we would have a family foot washing ceremony and even sing a song to end the night.
The next day we would celebrate Good Friday. Growing up, I remember meaningful Good Friday services in my little Lutheran church. The churches we have gone to as a married couple have sadly never had a Good Friday service, so we had our own at home. Doug would find two pieces of scrap wood to form a cross. Then, on little scraps of paper, we would write the names of sins we were struggling with or simply the word "SIN," and then we would take turns nailing the papers to the cross. These papers would magically disappear on Easter morning.
One of my favorite traditions at Easter has been telling the Easter story with homemade Resurrection Eggs. While you can buy a beautiful set in the store, you can make an even cheaper and more meaningful set at home with an empty egg carton, leftover plastic Easter eggs, and simple objects like a nail, a piece of cloth, and a tiny stone. These little treasures inside each egg have helped my children to retell the story of Easter over and over and over again.
Thankfully, Easter has been a time of sweet memories, and it has also been a time to recommit to discipling our children. While we'll continue these Holy Week traditions, I'm also considering adding something new to our Easter memories. Here's some Easter ideas I've found on the web: