But why is it that a Christ-centered Easter seems so much harder to celebrate than a Christ-centered Christmas?
In December there are nativity sets and carols on FM radio that say "Lord" (not in vain, even!), and everywhere you look there are service-oriented volunteer activities that lend themselves quite nicely to a Christian observance of Christmas.
Maybe it's just me, but I have a harder time finding that in the normal trappings of Easter.
In Greece, the traditional Easter greeting to others is "He is risen!" to which the other person responds, "Truly, He is risen." I wish we had something like that here in the U.S.
I'd like to share a few of the things that my family does to try to refocus ourselves and our kids on the real meaning of Easter. (We don't do them all every year, so don't hyperventilate. We're actually very lazy people, I assure you.)
- Read the scriptural accounts of Palm Sunday up through the resurrection. Start well in advance of Easter and read a little each day.
- Check out picture books from the library (or buy them, if you must) that emphasize the meaning of Easter. A good list to start with is this one from A Lively Hope.
- We usually do our Easter egg hunts and get Easter baskets on Saturday "for fun," and then celebrate Easter Sunday "for real" by going to church and doing more Christ-centered stuff at home.
- Have a different sort of egg hunt with plastic eggs filled with little stickers or candies — except one. Make a really big deal about finding the empty "Resurrection Egg" and talk about Jesus' empty tomb as you party it up in whatever way will get your kids the most excited.
- Build up to Easter. One way to do this is by observing Lent. You can also devote the week leading up to Easter to talking about what Jesus did on each day (there are a ton of places on the Internet that tell you what happened on each day.)
- Watch movies about the real meaning of Easter. A pretty good one is found here, but be careful with little kids or sensitive people because it can be pretty gruesome watching the Savior get beaten and crucified. Obviously.
- Go through the Easter story with an egg carton and plastic eggs numbered 1-12 (click here for instructions and what to put in each egg.) Our daughter actually just made this at a church activity and was excited to bring it home to show to the family.
- Find examples of meaningful Easter decor. Again, I've found this is a lot easier at Christmastime, but it can still be done. My friend Jeanne blew up a huge picture of Jesus' tomb (or at least what the tour guide says is probably like Jesus' tomb) from her college trip to Israel and puts in on her mantel at Easter. I also like this one from Welcoming Walls (which unfortunately is no longer available, but you get the idea:)
|image from Welcoming Walls|
I'm not sure how it evolved so that the true meaning of Christmas is easier to preserve than Easter, because, in the words of the late president and prophet of my church, "There would be no Christmas if there were no Easter."
But it can be done! Chime in with your best suggestions below, and happy Easter to your family.