The season of Lent always creeps up on me. One minute you are just adjusting to the new school year and then—wham!—it’s the start of Lent! For this very mundane reason we don’t normally start our family preparations for Easter the full 40 days before. But we have tried to make a bigger deal of the lead-up to Easter in recent years.
I feel like the run-up to Christmas is often easier for us to plan, and more natural to make a big deal about. It fits well with the end of the school year in Australia, and the rampant commercialisation of Christmas can prompt us to redirect the hype of the season towards the celebration of the incarnation.
However, throughout Church history it’s Easter that has been a more significant celebration for Christians. Jesus came in order to die and rise again. It was the culmination of his ministry, the inauguration of his kingdom and it’s what gives us a living hope for both now and the future. So here are some ideas you might like to use in your own families to help highlight how significant Easter is for us as Christians.
1. Focused Bible reading time
You could use the time in the lead-up to Easter to focus your family Bible reading towards the cross. There are dozens of different ways you could do this. Recent family-based publications I have liked include The Wonder of Easter by Ed Drew and A Jesus Easter by Barbara Reaoch. Growing Faith has a ten-day Easter reading plan you could use or you could simply read a gospel together, timing it so that you reach the cross on Good Friday.
A tool we have used for many years is resurrection eggs. There is a commercial version you can buy, or you can easily google how to make your own. It’s a set of 12 plastic eggs, each of which contains a small item as a prompt to some part of the Easter story. You can read the relevant passage and open an egg each day, like an Easter version of an Advent calendar. The Easter Sunday egg is empty to signify the empty tomb. I love the way this takes a commercial idea—the Easter egg—and redeems it with a gospel focus.
Decorating our homes is something we are familiar with at Christmas, but perhaps not so much at Easter. I have tried to start making more of an effort to decorate at Easter because I think it helps to convey to both our family and any visitors that Easter is of great significance to us. We have a mix of store-bought (discount variety shops are great!) and homemade decorations. We do things like chocolate eggs in glass vases, branches with decorated hanging cardboard eggs, Easter bunting and a wooden sign that says, ‘He is risen!’.
I chat to the kids about how the eggs and bunnies can remind us of the new life we have in Jesus. We also keep our Easter kids’ books packed away and bring them out in a pretty basket at this time of year. While living in England our church would have each child make a resurrection garden. This was a bowl of soil where they made a hill with three stick crosses and a half-buried paper cup covered in the soil and grass seed to be a tomb. A stone covered the face of the tomb. It sat on our table, and we watered the grass seed and watched it grow as Easter approached, and on Easter Sunday we rolled away the stone to reveal the empty tomb.
As humans we so often associate food with certain events. When we watch a movie, we eat popcorn. When someone has a birthday, we eat cake. Jesus himself used food as the basis of his memorial meal when he instituted the Lord’s Supper. So, we like to use certain foods at Easter to point towards its specialness and significance.
In our family we make hot cross buns on Good Friday, we eat a lamb meal on Easter Sunday lunch to remember Christ, our Passover lamb, and we make a resurrection cake. This is simply a cake with a large hollow egg laid sideways on top with a ‘tomb stone door’ cut out and rolled away. We decorate it with dyed green desiccated coconut grass and a mini egg-lined pathway. (See my picture below.)
Other families I know do their own Last Supper on Thursday night and eat fish on Easter Monday while reading John’s account of the resurrection appearance of Jesus where he cooked his disciples some fish. We also like to do some ‘new life baking’ which can be anything where you stick chocolate eggs on top!
Music can be such a great way to mark and celebrate a season. I like to play the Colin Buchanan Easter songs on repeat for my kids. There are also great Easter playlists you can access by Emu Music and Katoomba Easter Convention, as well as many others. I like to start the morning on Easter Sunday by loudly blasting the old hymn ‘Christ the Lord Is Risen Today’ and we teach our kids to greet each other that morning with ‘Christ is risen’ and the response ‘He is risen indeed!’.
Easter Sunday and the truth of the resurrection is the basis of our sure hope for the future and our unshakable joy each day. Let’s make it a day that stands out in our families as one of joyful celebration.
Jocelyn Loane is married to Ed, and together they have five children. They have been serving in full-time ministry in a variety of contexts since 2008. They are a part of Naremburn Cammeray Anglican Church.
All About Jesus
With loads of colouring pages, mazes and fun puzzles, this delightful Easter activity book teaches kids aged 2-7 all about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
Buy it from Youthworks Media
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