He is risen, He is risen indeed! It’s Easter. Time to celebrate that triumphant morning when our Savior rose victorious from the grave.
According to the New Testament, during the Jewish Passover season, Christ was tried for treason by Pilate, the Roman appointed governor, and then by Herod, King of Judea, and again by Pilate, before being sentenced to death on a cross. Though declared innocent by the authorities, Christ was crucified and laid in a sealed and guarded tomb. But on the third day He rose from the dead, with the power to save mankind from their sins. This event is commemorated every year in the spring as a holy day for Christians around the world.
Yet, according to author Kim Wier, co-director of Engaging Women Ministries, Easter was never intended to be just one day. "For most families, including Christians, God gets an hour on Sunday, and we get the rest of the day to hunt eggs and feast on sweets." Wier is quick to point out there's nothing wrong with traditional Easter celebrations; it's just that those in themselves are not enough.
"The shame isn't that we are celebrating Easter Day; it is that we are missing Easter Season. It's like scraping off the icing without realizing you could have had cake too. That may be hard for most of us to comprehend in our culture that prizes a hurry-up and move-on attitude. But God, who specifically called his people to times of annual celebration and festival, did so because seasons of celebration accomplish significant things in the lives of His followers."
How about your family? Ready for some cake? Try these faith-filled activities that go beyond Sunday morning as you usher in this Easter season.
Help your little ones stuff hollow plastic eggs with one chocolate heart, because Jesus came to give us a new heart toward God. Then allow your little one to hand them out to friends, neighbors, or people you meet during the day. You might include a note inside with the passage from John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." – Jesus
Hold a neighborhood egg hunt, but award the large basket filled with candy for whoever finds the one empty egg, representing the empty tomb. When the child finds the empty egg he or she must call out, "He is not here he has risen, just as he said." Be sure to conclude the hunt with an Easter story on the lawn. I'd recommend The Parable of the Lily, by Liz Curtis Higgs.
Sometimes the greatest joy is in the giving. Visit a nearby hospital or retirement home and greet one of the residents with a fresh Easter lily. You may want to attach a card with some encouraging words about the hope we have in our risen Lord.
Children this age might enjoy a surprise field trip for a sunrise service at the park or a nearby lake. Be sure to bring a Bible, hymnbook or maybe even a guitar for a worshipful early morning celebration.
Since there are many new visitors attending church for the Easter service, make a point to greet and invite someone to lunch afterwards. Then remember to make plans to sit together next Sunday at church.
Many parents would agree that children should wait until they are older to see the acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ, which graphically depicts the horrible violence that Jesus Christ endured before giving His life on the cross.
For the most part, children in our culture are privileged enough to be insulated from the reality and "scariness" of death.
Death and life, however, are at the core of the Christian message exemplified by Good Friday and Easter and remembered each Sunday. How much does your child understand that message?
Children need to know that dying was Jesus Christ's reason for living on earth. They also need to know about Jesus' resurrection three days later. As a parent, you can have the wonderful privilege of talking with your child about these important truths. The Easter season (which only begins with Easter Sunday) is great time to do this.
The following mini-lessons are designed for you to download, print out, review with a Bible in hand and then read with your child. These lessons will help you give your child a greater appreciation and understanding of the purpose of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection.
Ultimately, these five mini-lessons will encourage your child to join God's family.
These mini-lessons are intended to help parents to excel in their role as spiritual leaders for your children. Focus on the Family is a primarily donor-funded ministry, and our online resources are provided through the generosity of our supporters.
If you have walked through store aisles lately, you've seen many reminders that Easter is coming. What isn't so obvious is that, for Christians, Easter is truly the most significant day of the year.
At the store we find:
Is it any wonder that our children are more excited about the coming of the Easter Bunny than about the coming of God's kingdom? We spend many days on egg-coloring and baskets but focus on Jesus Christ's death and resurrection for only one hour on Sunday morning.
Many parents, however, are looking for ways to make the true significance of Easter a reality to their children. Well, here's the good news!
Bunnies, eggs, baskets and more can become tools that parents use to bring a greater understanding of the message of Easter. With just a little creativity, all these symbols that often replace the real significance of Easter can be the very things that make the holiday full and rich with spiritual meaning.
Instead of merely coloring eggs this Easter, why not use the eggs to tell the story of God's love and forgiveness?
Use a rabbit picture, a stuffed bunny or even a real one (if you are adventurous) to teach some of the characteristics of Jesus that we should all try to have. By adding a Bible verse to each quality, you will create a true Easter Bunny.
Real Easter bunnies:
We sometimes forget that our children don't understand everything that is being said and done around them. Often we take for granted that they understand things we have not explained.
The Easter story, while beautiful, can be very confusing to children when we don't take time to simplify the story in a way they can understand. An explanation of some big words can help. For very young children, omitting the harder words all together may reduce confusion.
Explain to your kids what these terms mean:
No Easter morning would be complete without eight little words. These words uniquely signal a cherished tradition in our home. In the predawn darkness, I walk into my daughter's room, bend over and whisper in her ear, "Happy Easter, Ally. It's time to get up!"
Ever since my middle daughter, Allison, was 7 years old, she has accompanied me to the sunrise service in our town. Of my three daughters, she is most willing to brave the cold and dark.
This annual sunrise celebration is more than bonding time; it's the perpetuation of a tradition I enjoyed with my dad. When I was 7, my pastor-father invited me to join him at the local ecumenical Easter sunrise service. That year, they let me help distribute bulletins as worshipers arrived.
I remember his warm hand jostling my shoulder as he woke me. I remember the woman who sang "The Holy City" — she had only one arm. Mostly, though, I remember how easy it was to visualize the first disciples journeying to the tomb in the darkness only to find it empty. The experience touched me spiritually, and I felt a special closeness to my dad.
As my attendance at sunrise services continued through the years, Allison is the only one of my girls that has experienced the same joy I felt as a kid. Even so, I've found other traditions to enjoy with Kristin and Lauren.
The Easter traditions we enjoy as a family help embrace the reality of Christ's resurrection. Perhaps your family can enjoy them as well.