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:
  • Noel Piper has a Lenten devotional using candles called "Lenten Lights."
  • Ann Voskamp has directions to create a beautiful Easter passion tree here.
  • An article from Focus on the Family shared many of the same Holy Week activities I mentioned above and more.
So, how do you keep Jesus in Easter?


Adriane said...

Kara, I love these Easter ideas! Is it ok if some of them end up being Muehleisen traditions too???

Kara said...

Absolutely, Adriane! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Deidra said...

You are creating sweet memories with your family. Thanks so much for linking this post up with the Inspired Deals page at (in)courage! It's so fun to have you there!

Joyfulmama said...

Hi there. I am so encouraged by your post and the lovely ideas you shared, especially the idea of nailing our sins to the cross. We have a little Palm Sunday devotional ready for tonight, but I LOVE the idea of actually acting out the story. Will just have to check how willing my 'donkey' is! :-) Have a truly blessed week!

xinme said...

Visiting from the linky party at Impress Your Kids:)We do many of the things you've described -- but I love your idea of the cross with the sins that disappear on Sunday!I think we might have to try that!

If you'd like to see some of what we do, you can visit me at: or click on the Easter Traditions link in my topical list of posts @ created :)

musicalmary said...

Hi -- visiting from Impress Your Kids... I'm Lutheran, too - and I'm so excited we have a Good Friday service this year. This week is probably the most meaningful week of the entire year (in my opinion) - this morning the Gospel was a dramatization of Palm Sunday and it was amazing. I love your ideas, and your blog. I'm new here, so I'll follow you now!


oh amanda {impress your kids} said...

I love love LOVE the idea of a family foot washing! I love the whole idea of just mirroring Jesus' week.

Thank you so much for linking up to Impress Your Kids!