Monday, April 18, 2011

Has Easter Become Hollow?

I asked my 4 year old the other day why we celebrated Easter and waited with anticipation for her answer.  She said, "Easter is when Jesus died on the cross for us."  She didn't mention the resurrection part, but in my head I said "Praise God" that she didn't say it was about the Easter bunny.  Now, I am not a big conspiracy theory person, but in my opinion, I don't think it is a coincidence that the two major Christian holidays, Easter and Christmas, are all covered up with distractions.  At Easter time, you have the Easter bunny, eggs, baskets, Easter egg hunts, pretty dresses, bonnets, shoes, and purses.  At Christmas time, you have Santa, elves, presents, shopping, Christmas trees, candy, parties, and dinners.  None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but if I loose sight of Christ in the middle of it all, I have lost the true meaning.

The plans we have for the kids will be typical Easter stuff.  We will dye eggs and have an Easter egg hunt.  We will go see an Easter play at a neighborhood church on Good Friday that reenacts the Easter story.  The Easter bunny will come and leave baskets.  We will go to church on Easter morning.  My hope and my prayer for our family is that we don't ever lose sight this week on the true meaning of Easter.  Jesus suffered on the cross for our transgressions so we could be washed clean of all of our sins on Good Friday, and He rose again on Easter morning.  I want to do my best to build up the Easter story this week and show the symbolism in ordinary Easter traditions.

Here are some suggestions or ideas on how to fill the hollowness of Easter traditions with Christ.
  • Buy and do resurrection eggs with your kids (available at Christian bookstores or online).
  • Watch The Passion of The Christ on Good Friday.  Remember, it is rated R.
  • Go to church on Easter.
  • Get up early on Easter morning and have a special quiet time with God.
  • Draw different crosses on each of your Easter eggs with crayon before dying.  The dye will dye the egg, but not where the crayon marked.
  • Get crescent rolls and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Put one jumbo marshmallow on the wide end and roll towards the point.  Seal edges well around the marshmallow.  Bake.  The marshmallow will melt upon baking.  The bread represents the body of Christ, and the empty roll represents the empty tomb.
  • Tell children the reason we hunt for Easter eggs is because on that first Easter morning, they couldn't find the Lord Jesus.  Now, He is alive and is available to all who search for Him.
  • Make your own resurrection eggs by buying 6 jumbo Easter eggs.  Go around your house or yard to find the things you need.  The 6 eggs get a leaf (Palm Sunday), a coin (Judas's betrayal),  a thorn (the crown on thorns), a die (casting lots for Jesus's clothing), a rock (the stone in front of the tomb), and one is empty (empty tomb).
  • Have a carpet picnic, make popcorn, and watch Veggie Tales-An Easter Carol or other family friendly Easter video.
  • Check online for free Easter plays or activities that local churches might be putting on.
  • Tell children the reason we wear our best on Easter is because God gave us His best gift on Easter by giving us His one and only son as our sacrifice.  
  • Put chocolate crosses in Easter baskets rather than chocolate Easter bunnies.
  • Tell children the egg represents the enclosed tomb, and the hope of new life lies within which represents the new life that we have in Christ Jesus.  The old is gone, and the new has come.
  • Gather as a family and read the Easter story.  Paraphrase parts of the story for young or sensitive children.
  • Put Christian games, books, music, videos, bibles, or devotionals in Easter baskets.
The ideas are endless really.  The main point, for me, is to try to point to the cross in every Easter activity.  As I was thinking and praying about this blog, I happened upon this cartoon.  I, of course, had a laugh, but I also saw it as a confirmation to write on this subject.
DANNY SHANAHAN/THE NEW YORKER COLLECTION/WWW.CARTOONBANK.COM
Even though the cartoon seems to portray two female bunnies probably seeing a male as hollow, I think it can symbolize the meaninglessness and hollowness of some Easter traditions.  If I do happen to buy my children a hollow bunny this year, I will not tell them that a hollow bunny is cheaper, because it has less chocolate.  I will tell them the bunny is hollow to symbolize that the tomb is empty, because Jesus Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed.

"But He was wounded for our transgressions...And by His stripes we are healed."  Isaiah 53:5

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