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.

 

Christ is Risen!!

IT’S SUNDAY MORNING!

“Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!”
Up from the grave He arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
and He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”


I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me—that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.

1 Cor. 15:3-4

Rejoice for this validates everything that Jesus did and said! It also grants us a confirmed hope! We who are alive in Christ will one day be reunited with those who are asleep in Christ!

The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17

Make Easter a family time of worshiping together and thinking about the risen Lord:

  • Start the morning with Resurrection Rolls and notice they are empty on the inside like the tomb!
  • Watch the sunrise and think on that first Easter sunrise when The Son rose!!
  • Read the Easter story together from Matthew 27-28, Mark 15 – 16, or Luke 23-24.
  • Sing praises together.  Hooray is one song that children really love about the empty tomb.  It is from Every Song a Bible Story from Maranatha Music.

Happy Easter from my family to yours!

Day Seven of Keeping Christ in Easter

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Matthew 28:6


Read about what was happening on Day Seven of Passion Week. It was a dark day for Jesus’ disciples – they thought He was in the tomb, but they could not imagine what He was actually up to during their darkest moments!!

Emphasize all day that when things look dark in our lives, God is busy at work, taking care of the things that concern us, even though we can’t see it.


Make an empty tomb with just a paper plate cut in half.  Color back side of one half of the plate brown. Color the top side of the other black which will be the inside of the tomb.  Cut a stone out of the brown side.  Staple the two sides together.  You can crumple a piece of brown paper for the stone.

Get complete instructions here to make an Easter Garden.

Tell the Easter Story with this Easter Cookie recipe. This is complete instructions with scriptures to share as you make the cookies.   When done, the cookies are empty just like the tomb.