Keeping Jesus in Easter

Easter
Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, is our most important Christian holiday.  Because it comes at springtime, some of our traditions at Easter are actually a part of the pagan springtime celebration.  The name Easter is from Eostre, an Anglo Saxon goddess of Spring. The resurrection of Jesus coincided with the springtime celebration for this goddess.   Through the years Christians began to incorporate the pagan springtime traditions with their celebration of the Resurrection.

But that was ok, according to Pope Gregory in AD 695, as long as they gave new meaning to the pagan traditions. The Pope wrote a letter to Saint Mellitus as Mellitus was on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”.

So let’s heed Pope Gregory’s suggestion. Use the tangible, familiar Easter traditions to teach the intangible truths about Jesus to our children:

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Easter basket – Middle Eastern cultures had spring traditions of celebrating the first seedlings of their new crops. They brought them in baskets to their temples for sacrifices so that their gods would continue to bless the crops for the rest of the year. But Easter gives us the assurance that God will continue to bless us because of the once and for all sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.

Here are some suggestions for relating the Easter basket to Jesus:

  • Easter basket is woven together like the crown of thorns
  • Easter grass is like hay in the manger for baby Jesus
  • Bag of gold or silver covered chocolate coins represent the betrayal of Jesus by Judas
  • Chocolate rooster is a reminder of Peter’s three denials of Jesus
  • One empty hollow plastic egg to represent the empty tomb
  • Marshmallow chicks, bunnies remind us of new life and new birth
  • And always put a cross in the basket.  It canbe a chocolate one or possibly one you have made together.

Bunny_in_a_hole_by_cuzvans8er

Bunnies – In the 13th century hares and rabbits were symbols of fertility because they reproduce so rapidly. Rabbits were the sacred animal of Eostre, the goddess of Spring and fertility. A possible reason for the link between the rabbit and the egg comes from the Pagans associating the rabbit with the moon and the egg with the sun.  Easter comes during the spring equinox when day and night are the same length, thus the rabbit and the egg are together.

The bunny can be a reminder of the Resurrection.  The bunny stays underground much of the winter and comes out in spring. Jesus was in the tomb 3 days and then came out of the tomb alive!

Easter 2006 007

Colored Eggs – The Bible tells us in Revelation 21:5 that Jesus makes all things new. The eggs remind of us of new life.  Jesus gives us new life when we become a Christian.

The coloring reminds us of how beautiful the world is as it comes back to life after the winter. This is a reminder of Jesus coming back to life on Easter morning over 2000 years ago.

Each color can be used to talk about Jesus:

  • Red is for the blood Jesus shed on the cross for us
  • Green is for the grass and trees He made
  • Blue is for the sky and water He made
  • Yellow is for the sun that shines brightly
  • Orange and pink are for the flowers that are blooming
  • White is for His cleansing us from all our sins by His taking the punishment for us on the cross
  • Purple is a color for kings and Jesus is the King of kings

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Hiding Eggs – The history of hiding eggs goes back to possibly when the Pagans used eggs in their Spring celebrations. After early Christian influence, the Pagans hid their eggs to avoid persecution.  Another possible reason for hiding eggs is because they were forbidden during Lent, so symbolically they were hidden and found at the end of Lent.

Before you hide the eggs this year, share with your children that the true meaning of the holiday gets hidden in the activities of the season and we need to hunt for the true meaning – that Jesus died for us and is risen from the dead.

Put Bible verses in some of the eggs you hide and then gather together to read them all after they are found.  Some suggested verses are:

  • Revelation 21:5  Jesus makes all things new.
  • Galatians 2:20  Jesus Christ lives.
  • Matthew 28:6  Jesus is risen.
  • Song of Solomon 2:12  The flowers appear on the earth.
  • Song of Solomon 2:12 The time of the singing of birds has come
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 God made everything beautiful
  • Psalm 103:5 God satisfies my mouth with good things.

Make one egg empty like the tomb and give a prize for the one who finds that egg which represents the true message of Easter, that Jesus is alive!

Have a happy Easter with your children, enjoying the traditional Easter activities and relating them to the greatest event in history – the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!!

For more information and resources for celebrating Easter with your children, just search ‘Easter’ on this site.

 

Teach Your Preschooler About Wisdom

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The definition of wisdom is ‘seeing and responding to life situations from God’s frame of reference’.  We must begin early to teach our children this, so they will be able to make wise choices and avoid many pitfalls in life.

Scripture is clear as to how we learn wisdom.  It all starts with a reverence for the Lord.  So start at the very beginning to teach this foundational quality to your children.

Here is a lesson plan on wisdom from my book Here a Little, There a Little.  It is designed to spend a week on the Bible verse, reading Bible stories that illustrate the verse and doing activities to make the verse practical in the child’s life.  Read the stories from a children’s Bible or tell it in your own words.


Bible Verse: 
 Proverbs 9:10 Reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom


Bible Stories:

Exodus 3:1-4:12 Moses kept the sheep for his father-in-law. One day as he was watching the sheep, Moses saw a bush on fire but not burning up. When he went closer, he heard God speaking to him from it. God told him to take off his shoes because he was walking on holy ground. Moses obeyed and even hid his face from God because he knew how important God is. God was pleased with the reverence Moses had for Him. He told Moses He had a special job for him to do, but not to be afraid to go and do it. God promised to be with Moses and to give him wisdom to know what to do and say. Moses reverence God and God gave him wisdom. Reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Psalm 119:15 A man in the Bible had respect for God. He learned to respect/reverence God by reading God’s Word. The Bible teaches us to have reverence for God and it gives us wisdom. This man in the Bible told God, “I will study Your Word and have respect for Your ways. Let’s tell God that too then we will be showing reverence for God which is the beginning of wisdom.

Matthew 21:12-13 We can show reverence for God by the way we treat God’s house. Jesus got angry with some men when they did not show reverence for God in His house. They were making money in God’s house instead of praying. They were not showing reverence for lGod. Jesus told them to get out of God’s house because it was a house of prayer and should be respected. We can show reverence for God in His house by not running inside or throwing paper on the floor? What are some other ways we can show reverence?

Luke 4:16-21 Jesus went to church one day and they gave Him the Bible to read to everyone. Jesus stood up to read. That was one way for Him to show reverence for God and His Word. As He read the Bible, all the people showed their reverence for God by listening. If we want to be wise and know the right things to do, we must have a reverence for God and listen whenever anyone is reading the Bible.

2 Samuel 6:1-7 David and a man named Uzzah were moving a holy piece of furniture from God’s house. God had said that they were not to touch it so they had it on a cart being pulled by animals. Uzzah did not respect what God had said and he touched the piece of furniture. God had to punish him for not showing reverence. If we show reverence for God by obeying Him, He gives us wisdom, not punishment.


Prayer:
 Teach us to respect You so that we may make wise choices


Activities:

  • Find a picture of someone kneeling as they pray and talk about how they are showing reverence for God. Possibly make a puzzle out of the picture.
  • Find picture of someone reading the Bible and others listening. Talk about how the listeners are showing reference for God
  • Make a card game:

Make up cards of things that are wise and are showing reverence to God and things that are not:

Ex. – Wise: listen to Bible story, talk to God in prayer , walk in church, sit quietly in church, be gentle with their Bible

Ex. – Unwise: talk when others are reading the Bible, running inside church, leave paper on floor or bench in church, not praying

Cut out 2 paper people and label wise and and unwise

Take turns drawing cards and putting them on the appropriate person.

Song:  (tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)  Reverence for the Lord, for the Lord, for the Lord, Reverence                                                                                    for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

 


 

 

 

Spring is Here – Time to Praise the Lord

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The flowers are springing up,
and the time of singing birds has come,
even the cooing of turtledoves.
Song 2:12 

 In Matthew 6:25-34 , Jesus must have been enjoying spring time as He taught His friends about how much God loves them.  He noticed the birds flying around and said,  “Look at the birds! They aren’t worried about having enough to eat because God feeds them.  In the same way, you shouldn’t worry about what you will eat.  God will feed you too!”  Then Jesus picked up some flowers that were blooming and said, “These flowers don’t have to worry about what they will wear because God has beautifully clothed them.  You don’t need to worry about clothes either for God will make sure you have something to wear.”

I hope your main activity with your children during this season can be outside enjoying nature together. Share with them that the Bible says in Psalm 145:10 that all God’s works shall praise Him.

As yall observe the beauty of God’s creation, join with the flowers, trees, and birds in praising God.  Here’s some songs to sing as you do.

This one is an old recording, but you can get the idea, or better yet, you can make up your own:

 Now the Flowers Are Growing

And another about God’s Beautiful World:

http://youtu.be/AbWgeJOMQ4U

Isaiah 55:12 says the mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! So even if we don’t praise the Lord, creation still will.  Here’s a song about this that was recorded for me and my children by a friend, Patti Bennett:

 The Rocks and Hills Will Cry Out

These next two are from children’s musicals when my children were small.  Yeah, I know they are dated, but give them a listen:

http://youtu.be/W8wFjhWztcw

http://youtu.be/HLsh3lwKv5c

Happy Spring!!!