A few years ago I caught the vision of making Easter even more special than Christmas. After all, Jesus’ death and resurrection is the highlight and culmination of everything that Christianity is about. Why should we get all excited about Jesus’ birth and entrance into this world as a little baby and then yawn about the fulfillment of His life’s mission and purpose, not to mention what that sacrifice and offering accomplished for us?
Since that time, I have attempted to make Easter extra special for my family. I bought new Bibles for each child the first year. I got versions for them that would make it easier for each of them to read the Bible themselves. Since then, I have alternated between getting new Bibles, getting Veggie Tales dvd’s, other Christian dvd’s, anything that comes to my attention (by the Spirit’s leading) that seems like it would go along with the message of the life of Christ and His death and resurrection. I put candy in their Easter baskets, too. They get very excited about Easter now.
We sometimes do some observance of Lent. We are not Catholic, but we do believe in fasting and self-examination and preparing our hearts for celebrating Jesus’ life and death.
So I’m incorporating some things that have struck my fancy this year as a way to prepare the hearts of my younger children and get their focus off of the candy and onto the real meaning of Easter – the death and resurrection of Jesus. I wrote about them in this post.
Genny at In Lieu of Preschool wrote a post about Preparing Preschoolers for Easter. She wrote out a reading plan for The Jesus Storybook Bible so that you would read the whole thing by the time Easter arrives. I borrowed her ideas and did some activities during the days leading up to Easter that were very helpful to them and to me in getting our minds and heart focused on the reason for the season.
I read The Jesus Storybook Bible to the twins one year to prepare their hearts for Easter, and we listened to the CD that goes with it. It is very well done. It is narrated by David Suchet. He does such a fantastic job that you feel like you’re watching a movie as you listen to him read the story.
I see that they have made DVD’s to go with it now. I haven’t watched them yet, but I would be surprised if they were less than excellent.
There is a really good book that you can read with your older kids that accomplishes the purpose of getting their minds and hearts focused on the themes related to Easter, such as sacrifice and redemption. It is called Amon’s Adventure: A Family Story for Easter, written by Arnold Ytreeide. You can find it at Amazon and places that sell Christian books. It is a story that is full of action and adventure, and we really enjoyed it. It really helps you to relate to the worry and fear that people feel when a family member has been falsely accused and is sentenced to death. But it has a wonderful ending, and the mood is not so heavy as to be depressing.
We kept a Lenten calendar that year and colored in a space for each day leading up to Easter. The twins really enjoyed that. Here is the calendar that we used.
You can find that and other Lenten activities at this site.
I found out how the early church intended Lent to be observed and why here at this site.
One thing that I really liked was the list of questions we should ask ourselves during this period of self-examination leading up to Easter.
Here it is:
Am I sharing gladly what I have with others, especially the stranger and the poor?
Do I have a gracious and patient attitude with others, especially those who irritate me?
Is it time for a change or a growth in my Bible study and the way I view my faith?
What are the lurking problems, which still plague me?
Am I as thoughtful and forgiving of family as others, or do I take my frustrations out on them?
Do I speak up for the maligned and oppressed, or do I remain silent in order to remain popular?
I thought these were very pertinent questions that would help us to get back on track if we’ve veered off and become self-focused or world-focused instead of Christ-focused. Our relationships are so important. And meditating on these thoughts and keeping them in mind should help us to improve and strengthen our relationships with God and with others.
On Easter Sunday morning, I load up their Easter baskets with all the goodies and set them on the kitchen table. I still make baskets for the older kids, too, so we have ten baskets taking up all the space on the table every Easter morning. As the kids get up I let them go through their baskets to see what they got, and unlike our Christmases, everything they get in their baskets is a surprise to them. I usually get them a new Bible, a book that teaches something about God, a DVD that is Bible-based or has a good moral, or is by a Christian comedian and lots of good candy! There are usually fun little things that I find that I know different ones of the kids will like that I include in their baskets.
If I have made a garden tomb centerpiece, then we look for the body of Jesus. I wrote a post about how we make a garden tomb and what we do with it right here.
Then we have an Easter egg hunt. I have usually bought nice, new dresses for the younger girls and a nice outfit for Garrett. They wear those during the day. We make Resurrection Rolls and talk about how the body of Jesus started out in the tomb, but when the women came to mourn, his body wasn’t there.
We read Benjamin’s Box and go through the Resurrection Eggs, too, sometimes. Each egg contains something that is a symbol of Easter.
I fix a nice dinner that we all eat together. And that’s pretty much what we do to celebrate Easter.