A Family Easter

What were you doing last February? Possibly, after Valentine’s Day passed and stores cleared their shelves for St. Patrick’s, you were seeing some Easter chicks and ducks, lilies and daffodils peeking out from the green. You might have started working on your church’s annual Easter cantata, or (if you’re a traditionalist) thinking about for new dresses for the girls and dress shoes for the boys. Easter dinner might have been lurking in the back of your mind: who to invite, what special dessert to serve. Or the Saturday egg hunt, the biggest community outreach of the year.

Now what?

For the secular world, Easter is going to follow St. Patrick’s Day down the memory hole of this awful year: bye-bye, bunnies and baskets. We’ll gobble our sorrows in Cadbury eggs.

But nothing will stop spring. Nothing will keep Christ in the grave, and nothing will dim the glory of his resurrection. “Wake, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).

We’ll be celebrating Easter as families this year, while holding our church family in our hearts. If you have household Easter traditions, no doubt they will take on special significance. But in addition to your church’s live stream, you might plan a few other observances to take place during the week. We’ve been brainstorming, and here are some ideas.

Seen on Facebook: for Palm Sunday, tie some palm fronds to your front door, porch, or front window.Make a tomb of homemade dough that could be baked hard (Here’s a recipe. And another one that doesn’t use cream of tartar, though I can’t vouch for its baking properties.). Shape the dough into a rough hollow sphere, make a round opening on one side, and shape a round flattened lump of clay that will cover the opening (remember it will shrink a bit during baking, so make it slightly larger). Bake in a low oven (250-3000 degrees) until hard. When cool, paint it gray with some realistic-looking dark streaks and set it on a box lid or tray. Decorate with moss, twigs, and small flowers, if you like. On Good Friday, after your family devotional, roll the stone seal over the opening and glue it shut with putty or caulk or some other substance (even glue!). On Sunday morning, break the seal and roll the stone away. If you have a small bulb or flashlight, slip it in sometime over the weekend as an Easter Sunday surprise. The “tomb” can be used for several years—but see Betsy’s suggestion below for a quick, edible version!For older children, read an “evidence” book during the week, such as The Case for Easter by Lee Strobel or More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.Over Easter weekend, share your testimony with your children, if you haven’t already. You can make it part of a Saturday devotional or Sunday family service.Make a list of everyone’s favorite resurrection hymns and songs to sing together. If you’re a sing-around-the-piano kind of family, stage your own concert. Even little children can join in with a triangle or hand drum. If you’re not “musical,” make a playlist from YouTube or iTunes.Speaking of concerts, listen to Part II of Handel’s Messiah, the “Passion” section: it begins with “Behold the Lamb of God” and ends with “He was cut off.” This Wikipedia article breaks down all the arias and choruses with scripture references. The music, especially for the choral numbers, is vivid and descriptive when linked to the powerful words, mostly from Isaiah 53. For a fuller experience, listen to the first half of Part II on Good Friday the second half (beginning with “But thou didst not leave his soul in Hell” on Sunday—it just gets better! (Here’s my recollection of a performance I got to participate in.)We’ve recommended several Easter family devotional books—see links to two of them below. Most of these are two- or four-week devotionals, but there’s still time to get the Kindle edition of some worthwhile Easter-themed storybooks (links below).Or, instead of a devotional guide, do a family dramatic of the passion narrative from one of the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Appoint a narrator and assign parts to family members: Jesus, Peter, the Pharisees and Priests, Pilate, etc. On Palm Sunday, read the account of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. Monday-Wednesday would be his conversations with challengers, various parables, and predictions of the future. Thursday would be the last supper, Friday the crucifixion, Saturday the burial, and Sunday, of course, the Resurrection. I’ve broken down the Passion narratives of each gospel in a handy chart to download.Megan and Betsy chime in with their Easter traditions:

Megan: Our family celebrates a Messianic Passover every other year or so. We usually invite a family to join us but can’t this year, of course. It is my boys’ favorite holiday celebration, but I will say that the roast lamb is pretty expensive. It usually runs around $50 at Kroger. We could probably use a smaller portion this year. (Lamb requires a different kind of sacrifice than shedding blood.) Many traditional items that are included in the meal demonstrate 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 would suit your family’s ages and attention span. Make sure you prepare plenty of charoset–it’s delicious!!

Betsy: We go through the Resurrection Eggs from Family Life Ministries every year. My kids now tell the story using those props, but they were a great teaching tool when they were little. (Note: It’s too late to order the eggs in time for Easter week, but if you have enough plastic eggs lying around you might be able to whip up a homemade substitute.) We also make “Resurrection Rolls” every Easter morning (crescent roll dough wrapped around marshmallows that have been rolled in melted butter and cinnamon sugar). It’s simple, but a fun tradition that is also a good object lesson. The marshmallow stands for the body of Jesus, wrapped in the oils and spices for burial and buried in the tomb. When the rolls are baked, there’s an “empty tomb” in each roll. We have favorite Easter hymns, favorite foods, and favorite flavors of jelly beans. This year, I will get out the fine china and be doubly sure to not miss any of our usual home traditions. We will be live streaming worship services, but I’m so thankful to have a house full of musicians who can play multiple instruments!

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Scripture tells us that “through one man came death.” Think about how the current crisis came about through one man (or woman), and quickly brought the world to a standstill. But even so, through one man came the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:21; see “The Good Infection”). We may be headed for rough times, and God surely has the right to bring down man’s vain pretensions. But we can also rest in hope, and pray for the return of our risen Lord.

More at Redeemed Reader:

Some of the Easter Devotionals we’ve recommended are Why Easter? Mission Accomplished (starred review). Worth-the-price storybooks to have for your library are The Prince’s Poison Cup by R. C. Sproul, The Ology by Marty Machoski, and The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross.
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