Easter can be a fun holiday. We haven’t had anything BIG to celebrate since Christmas, and it’s a chance to receive gifts, eat candy, and enjoy family. However, I would dare to say that most families do not explain Easter to their children, nor do they understand why we celebrate.
Imagine planning a big party, complete with themed decor, yummy foods, many guests, and more. Now imagine that that same party has no guest of honor. The guest of honor (in this case, Jesus) is left out, only for people to wait for an Easter Bunny to arrive and give them treats, to hunt for candy-filled eggs, and eat animal-shaped marshmallows. What a mistake so many families make!
Easter (better named Resurrection Sunday) is the most significant holiday in the Christian calendar! It is the day that we celebrate and remember that Jesus (who gave his life for us on the cross) was raised from the dead. He was given a new body, that could not get old, get sick, or die again. Jesus’s resurrection shows that his death was not the end. His resurrection showed that Jesus was telling the truth. He was who he said he was, and his message about God’s kingdom was trustworthy. Jesus’s resurrection shows us more about the life that is to come in the Kingdom of God. See 1 Corinthians 15 for more information on that.
So, as parents, we have a choice to make. We can ride the wave of Easter celebrations by shopping for the perfect dresses and white shoes, making sure that the Easter Bunny brings just the right treats, and setting up the perfect egg hunt, with no focus on the real reason we celebrate Easter. We can make sure that we attend church (After all, Easter Sunday is the one Sunday we cannot miss.) and pose for the perfect family photo, complete with pastel colors and smiles. Or we can help our children understand the real reason that we celebrate Easter. The story goes like this:
And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back–it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid,” (Mark 16:1-8, ESV).
So, let’s tell our children the REAL reason for Easter. Let’s make sure that our peeps understand why we celebrate! Here are some practical (and fun) ways to tell the story:
- Read About Resurrection: Before you do anything on Easter Sunday, read about Jesus’s resurrection. There are several passages to choose from: Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18. The details of the story vary (which demonstrates the authenticity of the story), but the main idea is the same: Jesus was raised from the dead!
- Food for Thought: There are many way to demonstrate the truth of the resurrection through foods. Some options are: Resurrection Cookies and Resurrection Rolls are just a few options that demonstrate creative ways to teach the story of Jesus’s resurrection.
- Donuts: Have donuts and donut holes ready for Sunday morning. Place the donut holes in center of the donuts, and see how your children respond. If they eat the donut hole, there will be an empty hole in the center of the donut. Use this opportunity to explain how the stone (donut hole) was rolled away (eaten), and the tomb (donut) was empty!
- Empty Easter Baskets: Instead of filling the Easter baskets, leave them empty. When your children head down the stairs to see what they got, use the emptiness to teach about Jesus’s resurrection. The tomb was empty on Sunday morning, and Jesus was resurrected!
- Egg Hunt: Set up an Easter Egg Hunt with treat-filled plastic eggs. Leave one egg empty. When all of the eggs are found, and the children begin to check out their loot, ask who got the empty egg. Ask about the significance of an empty egg on Resurrection Sunday (Easter). The tomb where Jesus’s body was laid was empty on Sunday morning. So, the empty egg reminds us of why we celebrate!