The crux of the Christian faith is found in Easter. It is the story of a man called Jesus, who was killed by being hung on a cross, and then three days later rose from the dead. The Bible says in John 3:16 that because of this act of love, those who believe it will be given eternal life.
Easter is a holiday celebrated in many shops and restaurants as being all about colourful bunnies, chicks, eggs and lots of chocolate and candy. But for those who look a little deeper it is laden with symbolism that can help you focus on what Easter is really all about: thanking Jesus for changing our lives forever.
Christians traditionally celebrate this event on Easter Weekend. This year Easter Sunday falls on the 5th of April but for many Christian denominations the holiday starts much earlier. For many Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists the Easter season begins six weeks earlier with the practice of lent or through sacrificing something daily to remind themselves of the sacrifice Jesus made for them. Other denominations begin focusing on Easter the Sunday before Easter. Traditionally Catholics call this the Holy Week with Palm Sunday beginning the week, followed by Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Whether this the first Easter you’re celebrating as a Christian, or if you’ve been celebrating Christ rising from the dead for years, here are a few ideas to make the days leading up to Easter more meaningful this year.
1. Crack some resurrection eggs
Similar to the concept of an Advent calendar, Resurrection Eggs, serve as a countdown to Easter. The contents of these eggs help you to tell the story of Easter using biblical references and symbolic symbols for each part of the lead up to the crucifixion. You can either buy a box or make your own as per the directions below.
2. Light some Lenton candles
Buy seven candles and use them as table centerpiece for the week leading up to Easter. Begin by lighting all the candles and then blow one out each night until on Good Friday you snuff out the last candle. On Saturday all is dark but then on Sunday you light all the candles again as a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection. This simple visual reminder not only prods you to remember why Easter is special but could spark some interesting dinner party conversation about what Jesus did for us.
3. Create a repentance box
The story of Easter reminds us that the ultimate price was paid for our sins and that our sinful pasts have been wiped clean and we are truly free. A great visual reminder of this is to get a box, decorate it, perhaps with a nail and some twine and a print out of Romans 6:8-11. Provide a stack of paper and then each day take a moment to write out sins and confessions of sin. It doesn’t matter whether the sins written on the cards are big or small because Jesus promised to wipe all sins away. Then on the Easter weekend take the box with all the cards inside and burn it as a visual reminder that Jesus has paid for our sins.
4. Plant an Easter Garden
In the first few chapters of Genesis in the Bible we read how the first people sinned and as punishment for that sin God introduced death. Then in Matthew 28 we read of a new beginning in a garden when the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb to reveal that he was alive. To celebrate this story and the life God gave us why not plant an Easter Garden. It doesn’t need to be big, you could plant it in an old pot or plastic container. Include some plants and a tomb (you could create this by using a potato if you can’t find a tomb like rock). If you have children why not replace all the plants the night before Easter with flowers and use this as visual reminder of how through Christ dying on the cross we have been given a new life.
5. Keep the Supper of the Lamb
In many ways the story of Easter is really a coming to pass of the Passover story found in the Old Testament story of Exodus. This meal does take a bit of preparation but is sure to create interesting memories and opportunities for conversation. You can find resources, printables and information on how to hold your own Passover meal on Ann Voskamps’ site aholyexperience.com
6. Bake some resurrection cookies
A simple way to remember and share the Easter story is by gathering your children or friends kids for a sleepover and baking a simple batch of meringues. The cooking process happens over night but in the morning you can discover the empty-tomb like meringues and talk about Jesus’ resurrection. Find the recipe in the block.
7. Share the Jelly Bean Prayer
If you want an easy way to share the story of Easter why not buy a couple of small bags of Jelly Beans and attach the following prayer and then give these as gifts on Easter Sunday or to colleagues before the holiday begins.
Red is for the blood He gave,
Green is for the grass He made,
Yellow is for the sun so bright,
Orange is for the edge of night.
Black is for the Sin we made
White is for the Grace He Gave
Purple is for the hour of sorrow,
Pink is for the new tomorrow.
A bag full of Jelly Beans…Colorful and sweet!
It’s a Prayer…It’s a promise…
It’s a yummy Easter Treat!
8. Have a sunrise service
On Easter morning either attend a sunrise service as a family or hold your own service at your house ideally outside. Give each a family member a part in the service. Assign one person to share the Easter message, another to read Easter scriptures, print out songs to sing and so on.
9. Fly a kite
The Easter story doesn’t end with Jesus rising from the dead. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus says that he will be with us always which leads to the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. A fun way to remember this occurrence is to get outside and fly kite to celebrate the wind of the Holy Spirit.