I feel like every year Easter catches me off guard. It seems like all of a sudden Easter day is here and gone before I've even taken adequate opportunity to contemplate all the day means for me as a Christian. It isn't that I don't try to set aside time for quiet introspection. I do try, but for some reason or another the busy-ness of life gets in the way and I allow another Easter to pass by without fully acknowledging its significance.
This Sunday at church Pastor John said something in his sermon that really hit home to me. He was talking about how Easter is the most sacred of all holidays and how the importance of Easter far exceeds that of Christmas. He went on to point out that even though we often deem Christmas to be the most important of holidays, it is in fact only a prelude to the greater work that was performed on Easter. Basically meaning that Christmas is only one chapter in the far greater story of God rescuing man. Easter, on the other hand, is the climax of His story, the greatest work, what everything else in the entire Bible is building up to. And, yet, how often it gets short changed.
I have always loved Christmas. Partly because at Christmastime it is so easy for me to "feel" worshipful and "feel" thankful for the gift of Christ. Every time I turn on the radio during the Christmas season my ears are filled with carols proclaiming Christ's birth. Angels and wisemen greet me at almost every department store Christmas display. People decorate their homes with beautiful lights so that I am reminded in the darkest of months that Christ came to be our light. Everywhere I go in the month of December I see physical reminders of God coming down to Earth in the form of the beautiful baby Jesus and I can't help but celebrate.
However, mainstream culture seems to provide little, only a mere 3 1/2 months later, to remind me of this same baby Jesus, who grew up to be a blameless, sinless man, who sacrificed his life to rescue me. The radio plays no Easter carols to make it easy for me to remember that Good Friday is only a few days away. It's not like when I walk into Target I am greeted by a cross or an empty tomb display. And, all too often, during Easter week I simply choose not to remember, I sing "Up From the Grave He Arose" on Easter Sunday, have a great Easter meal with my family after church, and then go about my life as normal again on Monday.
But, the point really isn't that I want to see crucifixes everywhere I turn during Easter week or even that I need outside cultural reminders to bring me to true and thankful worship. I believe the point that Pastor John was making on Sunday, one that definitely made significant impact on me, is that during the Easter season I will get no help from the world to remind me to celebrate the Truth of Easter.
Celebrating Easter is between God and myself. It is my choice whether or not to ponder the magnitude of what Easter means. It is up to me to take the time, to read the account of Christ's arrest, to weep over the unjust accusations made against Him, and to know that the cross he carried on his back was supposed to be for me. It is up to me to remember how He hung on that cross, bleeding, every muscle in his body screaming in agony, while every single sin I have ever committed and ever will commit was placed upon Him to bear as he gasped his final breath and died. Because of me...because He wanted to rescue me...because of His love...He died for me.
And, it is up to me to declare His defeat over death, to celebrate his rising from the grave, to anticipate His return with the joy and gratitude only one who has been rescued from the worst of all fates can know. And, when Monday roles around, I should not forget. Easter should change my life forever.
In an effort to have our family be more intentional about looking to Jesus this Easter, we made our own set of resurrection eggs...basically 12 plastic eggs that each contain a tangible object inside that helps to tell the story of Easter. These eggs have served as our very own physical reminders of Jesus during this week before Easter. As we open an egg each day, I have had the opportunity to little by little unfold the story of Easter to my kids. So far, it has proven to be an excellent way for me to not rush through the Easter story, to contemplate each piece of what was done for me, and to pass these significant truths along to my kids.
Of course Allie looks forward to the egg opening each day and has a multitude of questions regarding each egg, but I am so thankful for the discussions we have had in the past few days about Jesus because of her questions. I was definitely anticipating the kids loving the eggs, but what I wasn't anticipating is how God has been softening my heart as we open each egg and read through the corresponding Scripture. It is neat how He is preparing me a little more each and every day for Easter through something as simple as a dozen pastel colored plastic eggs with little objects I have gathered from around our house that all point to Jesus, making me truly thankful and excited to celebrate this Easter.
What are some ways you and your family prepare for and celebrate Easter?