Have you stopped to consider that celebrating a Christ-centered Easter can be incredibly beneficial to your spiritual health?
Over the past decade, Easter has become my favorite holiday of the year. On Easter Sunday, I wake up very excited – because I know Christ rose again. He defeated the grave. Because of that, I don’t have to fear death. And as I miss my loved ones who have passed away, I can rejoice that I’ll spend eternity with those who have put their faith in Christ Jesus.
Victory over death is what excites me on Easter, yet I’m a little surprised it took me so many years to really rejoice. Maybe it was because of the popular focus on Easter bunnies, Easter egg hunts, chocolate rabbits and jelly beans.
As a parent, I don’t want my kids to get caught up in a frenzy of baskets and bonnets. I don’t want them to miss the real reason of Easter, and wonder (like I did) what in the heck the Easter Bunny has to do with Jesus dying on a cross.
If you’d like a Christ-centered Easter this year, here are three general suggestions:
1. Scale back on Easter eggs and Easter bunnies. Or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, eliminate them completely.
2. Focus on the Easter story. Plenty of age-appropriate material is available — both in books and on DVDs. It’s not too late to visit your local library or Christian book store. Since my children were 3 and 5, we’ve watched the children’s version of The Jesus Film on Good Friday. (It’s free and online.) A version of the Jesus Film for teens and adults also is available online. I also love the Christ-centered Easter suggestions from Jessica Smartt on Keeper of the Home.
3. Go to church. Easter is the main event in the Christian year — local churches should have plenty of special plans for Easter Sunday.
Each year my husband and I try to intentionally plan our Holy Week activities. Here’s what we’ve planned this year:
Palm Sunday to Wednesday
We’re reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible, and we’ll also read the biblical account of Holy Week during our nightly family devotion time. I may throw in a little egg dyeing fun for my kids for craft time.
Our church offers a meaningful Maundy Thursday service at night – my husband and I participate in that, and our children go to a church childcare program.
Since our church doesn’t offer Good Friday services, we’ve started our own tradition of a Messianic Passover Seder. My husband grew up with Passover Seders, so he’s very comfortable leading it – he reads the Haggadah, a book that guides a 2-hour long responsive reading reflecting on the Israelites’ time in Egypt – and, since it’s Messianic, Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and his fulfillment of prophecies.
We like to invite different groups of believing friends to introduce them to a Seder – the time of worship and reflection on Christ is one of our favorite parts of Holy Week.
This year, we’re hosting eight other couples from my husband’s Bible study, so my week is filled with grocery shopping and food preparation. Part of the Passover preparation process is ridding your home of any leaven – including any crumbs that could be hiding. How this mirrors the need to rid our lives of sin – even hidden crumbs of sin. Practically, it means spring cleaning your home. So I’ve spent the past few weeks deep cleaning our home – last week was spent scrubbing our kitchen.
For the meal itself, I liken Passover to Thanksgiving dinner – there are many courses of food, and they all need to be planned and prepared in advance. The meal cooks while we are worshipping with the responsive readings, so everything needs to cook at the same temperature for about two hours. This week, I’ll start really cooking and baking tomorrow and Thursday.
Over the past decade of hosting Seders, I’ve found recipes I know will taste good together. This year, my menu includes:
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Tossed Salad
- Gefilte Fish (from a jar)
- Bubby’s Brisket (recipe follows)
- Lemon Roasted Chicken
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Potato Kugel
- Apple Kugel
- Macaroons (this recipe, without the chocolate chips and toppings)
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Beef Brisket
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 4 cups water
- Grease bottom of baking pan. Cover with sliced onions.
- Place beef brisket, fat side up, over the sliced onions.
- Cook, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Place sliced potatoes and carrots around the sides of meat.
- Mix ketchup, soy sauce and water. Pour over brisket, potatoes and carrots.
- Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
- Wrap in foil. Double wrap in plastic bag. Place in refrigerator.
- The next day, remove the fat from the cold brisket. Slice. Add more ketchup, soy sauce and water sauce. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Serve.
My parents love to host an Easter egg hunt for their grandchildren – and since they live in the woods, their yard is a perfect place for a tricky hunt. This year, they’re hosting a dinner and egg hunt.
On Resurrection Sunday, we spend the morning at church. You would think that we’d plan a big celebration for the rest of the day, but frankly … we get a little tired out by that time. Later in the afternoon, we’ll host my in-laws for a meal of:
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Green beans
- Some sort of yummy, springy dessert. Maybe lemon meringue pie … or pound cake with fresh berries.
We also treat our children to Easter baskets with a little bit of candy and some small springtime toys, and we’ll spend the Sabbath resting — and playing — together.
Every year our Easter schedule gets a little tweaked, and I still don’t feel completely content with it. But for now, our Holy Week plans bring a lot of worship, some fun … and hopefully a lot of sweet memories.
How do you celebrate a Christ-centered Easter?