Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Recently I was talking with a good friend about Easter and why it's so hard to get into it. I mean Christmas is easy. The whole world is celebrating it (in their own ways) and it's so incredibly simple to get caught up in the hype. Christmas does have Santa but the Christ Child is still pretty prevalent. Also, we pull out all the stops for Christmas as we wait for weeks (Advent) for it to come. But Easter, is harder. The Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs pretty much take precedent. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with hunting for Easter Eggs at all! But there is so much more to Easter that gets lost...I think this happens more with Easter than even at Christmastime.
Part of the reason, I think, is that in an effort to drop some traditionalism, the church ousted Lent which gave a nice lead up to Easter. And regardless of whether or not you think it's well and good to observe Lent, its absence leaves the Easter Season with much to be desired. But this should not be!! Easter is THE cornerstone of our faith...and I might even be so bold as to say more important than Christmas! For as my friend reminded me of Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ didn't rise from the dead, if there was no resurrection, then we Christians are fools and greatly to be pitied! "For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins...If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." vs. 16-19
Last year we didn't do much for Easter because I was just too pregnant with Elliana and I was tired. Some years, in this little years period, it just happens that way. But this year, we were hoping to get a little more on track. So out came my favorite book on traditions written by, Noel Piper-Treasuring God in our Traditions. Okay, just hear me. I am NOT crafty. I am NOT creative. At least not in the crafty way. So, when it comes to trying to teach things about God to my children in tangible ways, I need some major help. In walks Noel and spells it all out for me.
She's already raised five children (four boys, one girl) and has an incredible gift for making these holidays come alive. She is the one with the genius behind the Advent Calendar and Bethlehem Tree we do every year at Christmas and she is the one who came up with the two ideas we do at Easter.
This year we decided to take some of the items from our Bethlehem Tree and then turn it into a Jerusalem Tree with more items that pertain to the Easter story. So we took the hammer, the empty tomb and the cross (among a few others from Christmas) and then we added a bunch more like nails, a silver money bag, a spear and a picture of the Bread and Wine of the Last Supper. We made sure we had enough items to last us for five nights with one for each child a night (15 total). So we started Sunday and will continue to read about the Passion Story all week until Good Friday, putting up items that pertain to the story. Like any children, the boys loved making things for the tree. That big weird red thingy is Jesus' blood by the way.
The other idea we decided to do from the book is the playdough mountain. We had done this activity one other year and it was fun but the kids were still too little to really get it. This year, it's been perfect, especially for the two older ones. We made our own playdough on Sunday and then formed it in the shape of a mountain hollowing out a hole in the back for the tomb. We then baked it. Monday we colored it and the surrounding areas. Today we started gathering people and made our cross. Tomorrow we'll make some more people out of popsicle sticks and by Friday we'll get Jesus on the the cross. Friday night, after the kids go to bed, we'll put Jesus in the tomb and then wait for Sunday.
Such a simple idea yet, such a powerful image. It's almost like an Easter Nativity scene.
So this year we're trying to make it more real, more tangible. Because this is a story our children need to hear, see, touch and experience year after year after year.
It doesn't really matter what you do. And don't let this post be a downer because you don't have anything planned. It was meant to spark ideas to get you going to create something of your OWN. It's your family. Do what you want. Or copy Noel. That's what I like to do!
Just get the story out there this week-somehow.
For even though it's been two thousand years, it's still the greatest story ever told...the Gospel, our salvation...the Good News.