A household Easter – Redeemed reader
What did you do last February? You may have seen some Easter chicks and ducks, lilies and daffodils peeping out of the green after Valentine's Day had passed and the stores had cleared their shelves for St. Patrick's. Perhaps you have started working on your church's annual Easter cantata, or (if you are a traditionalist) thinking about new clothes for the girls and dress shoes for the boys. The Easter meal might have lurked in the back of your head: invite whom and which special dessert to serve? Or the egg hunt on Saturday, the biggest public relations work of the year.
For the secular world, Easter follows St. Patrick’s Day in the memory of this terrible year: bye, rabbits and baskets. We'll devour our worries in Cadbury eggs.
But nothing will stop spring. Nothing will keep Christ in the grave, and nothing will tarnish the glory of His resurrection. "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Eph 5:14).
We will celebrate Easter this year as a family and at the same time keep our church family in our hearts. If you have domestic Easter traditions, these will undoubtedly have a special meaning. In addition to your church's live stream, however, you can schedule some other observations to take place during the week. We brainstormed and here are some ideas.
- Seen on Facebook: tie some palm fronds to your front door, porch or the front window for Palm Sunday.
- Make a grave of homemade dough that could be baked hard (Here is a recipe. And another one No tartar cream is used, although I can't vouch for the baking properties.) Shape the dough into a rough, hollow ball, make a round opening on one side, and form a round, flattened lump of clay covering the opening (think The fact that it shrinks a little when baking, so make it a little bigger). Bake hard in a low oven (250-3000 degrees). When it's cool, paint it gray with some realistic-looking dark streaks and place it on a box lid or tray. Decorate with moss, branches and small flowers if you like. On Good Friday, following your family's prayer, roll the stone seal over the opening and seal it with putty or sealant or another substance (even glue!). Break the seal on Sunday morning and roll the stone away. If you have a small lightbulb or flashlight, slide it in sometime at the weekend as a surprise on Easter Sunday. The "grave" can be used for several years – but see Betsy's suggestion below for a quick, edible version!
- For older children, read a "proof book" for the week, such as The Case for Easter by Lee Strobel or More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.
- Share your report card with your children on Easter weekend if you haven't already. You can make it part of a devotional service on Saturday or a family service on Sunday.
- Make a list of the most popular resurrection anthems and songs for everyone you want to sing together. If you are a family singing about the piano, organize your own concert. Even small children can join in with a triangle or a hand drum. If you're not "musical", create a playlist from YouTube or iTunes.
- When you talk about concerts, listen to Part II of Handel's Messiah, the section "Passion": It begins with "See, the Lamb of God" and ends with "He was cut off". This Wikipedia article breaks up all arias and choruses with scriptures. The music, especially for the choir numbers, is lively and descriptive when combined with the powerful words, mainly from Isaiah 53. For a more complete experience, listen to the first half of Part II on Good Friday, the second half (starting with “But you didn't leave his soul in hell ”on Sunday – it just gets better! (Here is my memory a performance I was allowed to attend.)
- We have recommended several prayer books for Easter families – see links to two of them below. Most of these are two or four week devotions, but there is still time to get the Kindle edition of some worthwhile Easter picture books (links below).
- Or instead of a devotional guide, make a family drama of the passion narrative from one of the synoptic gospels: Matthäus, Markus or Lukas. Appoint a narrator and assign parts to family members: Jesus, Peter, the Pharisees and Priests, Pilate, etc. Read the account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Monday-Wednesday would be his talks with challengers, various parables, and predictions of the future. Thursday would be the last dinner, Friday the crucifixion, Saturday the funeral and Sunday, of course, the resurrection. I have the passion narratives of each gospel in a handy diagram for download.
Megan and Betsy agree with their Easter traditions:
Megan: Our family celebrates a messianic Passover every two years. We usually invite a family to join us, but of course we can't this year. It's my boys' favorite holiday party, but I will say that the roast lamb is quite expensive. At Kroger, it usually costs around $ 50. We could probably use a smaller serving this year. (Lamb requires a type of sacrifice other than bloodshed.) Many traditional items contained in the food show how Christ fulfills the symbolism of many details in the Exodus narrative. There are numerous websites that describe how your family can enjoy this practice. So choose one that matches your family's age and attention span. Make sure you prepare a lot of Charoset – it's delicious !!
Betsy: We're going through that Resurrection eggs from family ministries yearly. My kids are now telling the story with these props, but they were great teaching tools when they were little. (Note: It is too late to order the eggs in time for Easter week. However, if you have enough plastic eggs lying around, you may be able to conjure up a homemade substitute.) We also make "resurrection rolls" (croissants) dough wrapped around marshmallows every Easter morning rolled in melted butter and cinnamon sugar). It's simple, but a fun tradition that is also a good object lesson. The marshmallow represents the body of Jesus, wrapped in oils and spices for burial and buried in the grave. When the rolls are baked, there is an "empty grave" in each roll. We have favorite Easter anthems, favorite foods and favorite flavors of gummy bears. This year I will take out the fine porcelain and be doubly sure not to miss any of our usual home traditions. We'll be holding live streaming services, but I'm so grateful to have a house full of musicians who can play multiple instruments!
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Scripture tells us that "death came from a man". Think about how the current crisis came about through a man (or woman) and quickly brought the world to a standstill. Nevertheless, the resurrection of the dead came through a man (1 Corinthians 15:21; see "The good infection”). We may face difficult times, and God certainly has the right to overthrow man's futile claims. We can also rest in hope and pray for the return of our risen Lord.
More at Redeemed Reader:
Some of the Easter devotions we recommend are: Why Easter? mission accomplished (Star rating). There are valuable picture books for your library The prince's poison cup by R.C. Sproul, The logic by Marty Machoski and The garden, the curtain and the cross.