Satan has slithered in to Easter and the majority of Christians have lost the meaning of the empty tomb. This is how I ended my previous blog post. This follow-up post will continue in the same vein, but with a different purpose. Rather than continuing to tear down what secular Easter has built up in the church, I would like to take some time to elaborate on some alternatives to the baskets, egg hunts, and baby animals in pastels.
There are many resources to read to dig deeper into the true meaning of Easter. First, the Gospels. I would recommend choosing a Gospel and spending the next couple weeks reading it, and reading it again, and hopefully again. You can also “google” a Holy Week reading plan, or maybe your church has one for you. Here is an example: Palm Sunday–Matthew 21:1-11. Monday–John 1-9. Tuesday–John 13:21-38. Wednesday–Mark 14:10-12. Thursday–John 13:1-17. Good Friday–Luke 22-23. Holy Saturday–Matthew 27:57-66. Easter Sunday–John 20. Not only read these passages, but contemplate what they are saying. See how Christ is living his way to the cross. Pray through them. Read them multiple times a day.
Second, I would recommend a solid book on the empty tomb, such as The Christ of the Empty Tomb. The book is 200 pages, but if you start reading this book on Palm Sunday you can finish it by Saturday reading only 29 pages a day. Maybe there are others around who would profit from reading this book and having a daily discussion of its contents. A shorter book (also free) is Love to the Uttermost, a devotional for Holy Week.
Third, some of us have children too young to sit through a book like The Christ of the Empty Tomb, however we must never underestimate the power of reading Scripture aloud, especially to children. Read a Gospel to them. If they are old enough, take turns reading chapters. If you have enough family members in your home, take turns reading portions. Mom can be the author’s/narrator’s voice. Dad can read Jesus’s lines. The children can take turns being disciples, or John the Baptist, or…if you have brave children, the Pharisees. This will help the children memorize the story and it will probably help keep their attention. I offer this next book, but I have not read it. There are two videos (watch them both!) by the author and these are encouraging indeed! So, take a look at Why Easter?
Maybe you have grandchildren, and you will only see them on Easter Sunday. Instead of a basket full of goodies, give them the Gospel plainly. Tell them about the life of Christ, the death of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ. Print off some of these coloring sheets and share the story as you color with your grandchildren. If you are looking for a craft you can build an empty tomb or bake hollow cookies (I like the idea of leaving them in the oven over night). Of course cookies are not the point of Easter, but they can be used to teach and impress upon the memory of children the reality of Christ’s resurrection. (These options are not the only things you can do on Easter (of course!) or to prepare for Easter, so if you have any other ideas, or ways that you celebrate the risen Lord with your family and friends, let us know in the comments section!)
Rather than plan an Easter egg hunt, you could take your children and grandchildren to the church. Your church may have Easter programs, such as a Stations of the Cross exhibit, an Easter drama, or a Good Friday service. Get involved.
If, in the past years you have celebrated Easter with baskets and eggs, and you have been convicted that this is wrong, then the most profound statement you can make to your family is simply to stop. This Easter, remove these cultural bonds from your home. When your family asks, tell them the truth! This day is about Christ, and we must keep our focus on him. This is not a popular idea, I know. Tell them that at the cross, where Jesus died, the sins of those who believe in him have been forgiven. Tell them that the tomb is empty and Christ’s resurrection has put the last enemy, death, to death. Tell them that the work of Jesus Christ has defeated Satan, the strong man is bound, and the children of God serve a new Master now.
What is more important? Pleasing your family and friends with bunnies and chocolate, or sharing the only means by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). I am willing to ruffle some feathers, have a little awkward silence, maybe make someone mad, for an opportunity for the Gospel to be presented to the ones I love. The lost ones around us will not be saved by green plastic grass in a basket carried by a rabbit. They will be saved by the convicting truth of a crucified Lord risen from the dead.
Be sure to pray for your pastor. Ask him which passage he will be preaching on, read it and pray for his preparation. Pray that the Holy Spirit would descend and turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Pray for the pews to be filled, and pray for the Gospel to be preached.