We had spent December journeying through Advent season as a family. We had begun the process of making sure our words about the meaning of this season lined up with what our actions were communicating to our kids. Using our time intentionally, our family Bible times were sweet, the way we began to approach gift-giving was meaningful, and the holidays had become refreshing instead of exhausting. We truly found ourselves celebrating and anticipating the coming of Christ.
But the seasons had turned from frosty cold to the gentle, warm winds of spring, and I found myself sitting in church a week before Easter having not given it a second thought. The death and resurrection of our Messiah (which meant LIFE for me), whose birth we had so eagerly celebrated and decorated for months before, had been forgotten. I wanted to weep.
Instead, I went home and began to research. I found Noel Piper’s book Treasuring God in our Traditions and promptly ordered it so I could do better next year. (It has since become a staple reference book for our family, and I’ve recommended it a thousand times over). I did the best I could to work with my then-four-year-old (and let our 18-month-old over hear) to prepare him for what this Holy week truly meant.
So this is for you and for me (who needs the reminder even this year) that we should not leave the Easter lessons for our children to hear only in church. And because if you are like I was three years ago, when I sat in church realizing I needed to do Easter differently but not knowing where to start, here are some ideas and resources for you:
-Create a playlist of “Easter” music on your phone, iPad, or computer so you can fill your home and car with songs that make you reflect on the season.
-Use Resurrection Eggs with your kids. (You can buy them already made or make them on your own).
-Print Easter coloring pages from your computer and talk about the pages as you color them with your kids or when they bring them to you to show off their work.
-Stock up on Easter books at the library, order them online, or purchase them at a bookstore for the time you spend reading with your kids.
-Find age-appropriate movies about the death and resurrection of Jesus to watch as a family.
-Create an Easter Mountain (found in Treasuring God in our Traditions).
-Wake up earlier than your kids Easter morning and make this morning a true celebration with joyful music and lit candles and special food. This celebration can continue as you drive to church and anticipate together the celebration that you will experience with the body of Christ.
-Very often churches have a special emphasis/activities in the months or weeks leading up to Easter. Don’t leave your kids out of this but figure out a way for them to participate. Our church is currently encouraging its members to stop and pray for three non-believers every day leading up to Easter at 3:33. Since I am usually with my kids at this time everyday the three of us will sit together on the couch or pray in the car. I have loved sensing their excitement and eagerness to pray for others (even as I include them in my prayers for salvation), and I am so thankful that I decided to include them in this. If your church does a special offering emphasis, let them be a part of the giving too.
-Simply talk to them repeatedly about what Easter is and try as best you can to use words they can understand. Let them ask questions. Our five-year-old announced to me on Tuesday that she couldn't wait to see Jesus at church on Sunday. She was pretty excited because she was certain that she was going to be able to see and touch Him. I had to think carefully about what she’d heard that led her to believe this and then be careful with my words as I explained that He would not be there in person but there was still much to celebrate.
-Check out these resources: Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper, “Lenten Lights” by Desiring God Ministries, Mission Accomplished: A Two-Week Family Easter Devotional by Scott James, Why Easter? by Barbara Reaoch, and A Sense of the Resurrection: An Easter Experience for Families by Amanda White, who also wrote The Truth in the Tinsel.
-Grant yourself some grace. Pointing our children to the Gospel does not need to be exhausting and guilt ridden but should be refreshing and life affirming, for them and for us. Just the simple daily act of speaking truth into our childrens' hearts is the profound act of offering life to them.
Christ the Lord is risen today! Hallelujah!