What Should Easter Be Like?

Spring is hopefully around the corner and with that, I'm beginning to think ahead a few weeks to the celebration of Easter. I've spent the last two days thinking about Easter, how it's been celebrated in my life in the past, and how the Christian church as a whole, celebrates Easter. Christmas is the beginning with the birth of Jesus, and Easter is the pinnacle of the Christian faith with Jesus dying and rising again! Why then does it seem like we do so much at Christmas, but seem to drop the ball at Easter? After all, if the baby King born in a manger didn't die, and rise again, what kind of god are we following?

Easter should be the highlight, the pinnacle of the Christian church, and I would sadly say, that I fear it is not. In theory and in discussion, yes. But in practice? I would say no. Christmas, the birth of Jesus, outshines Easter by far. But what is Christmas without Easter? It seems that most Christians associate Easter with dressy, uncomfortable outfits, an array of the pastel colors purple, pink, yellow, blue, and green, the "secular" celebrations of baskets and easter bunnies, all culminating with an extra special visit to church on Easter Sunday where the pastor tries to make the "same old story" about Jesus' death and resurrection somehow new and exciting. That is what comes to mind when I think of the Christian church and Easter. And it pains my heart because Jesus is nothing close to being a "same old story." 

Someone said it like this, "it seems like Easter should be a military celebration, a Roman Triumph, a victory parade. Torches burning, bands blaring, pigs roasting on a spit. The God-Man has destroyed our last enemy, death, and has utterly triumphed over every foe. I don’t know quite what this should look like, but I do like what Rober Louis Wilken wrote in First Things:
If Christ is culture, let the sidewalks be lit with fire on Easter Eve, let traffic stop for a column of Christians waving palm branches on a spring morning, let streets be blocked off as the faithful gather for a Corpus Christi procession. Then will others know that there is another city in their midst, another commonwealth, one that has its face, like the face of angels, turned toward the face of God.
I agree that I don't know exactly what this should look like. I'm still in the beginning stages of trying to figure that out in our modern context. I want Easter to be a big deal in our lives. I want my children growing up truly seeing, knowing, and understanding Easter for what it is... a glorious, triumphant celebration of the very essence of our being and relationship with Jesus.... his death and resurrection. I didn't feel that most of my life, and even now don't always truly bathe in the triumphant glory of what Easter really is. But that needs to change, it must change, if I am to present my children with a God they long to follow, a God that captivates their hearts and minds, a God that they see and know as being as awe-inspiring as He truly is.

I've been doing lots of planning and reading on how we can celebrate Easter as a family. As evangelical Christians, I think we tend to run from things like "holy week"(celebrating the entire week leading up to Easter). We run from it for a lot of reasons, I think most particularly due to differing beliefs we might have with others who also use the word "holy week." But really and truly, holy week can and should be walking through the events in Jesus' life in his last days that brought him to the cross to pay our penalty for sin, and then to the great and grand event of his lordship over death by rising again!

Because my children are so young (3 yrs. old and 11 months), a lot of my "kid stuff" will center around hands-on crafts and stories during the day to begin teaching them (specifically Mekonen) the glory that is Jesus. (Oh how hard it is to even bring that down to a simple craft or story, but we have to begin somewhere!) Another thing I am putting together for the two weeks before Easter is an Easter tree, much like the Jesse tree at Christmas. The Jesse Tree at Christmas takes major Bible events that all point towards and lead to, the birth of Jesus. The Easter tree is similar in that it takes the major events in Jesus' life leading up to his death and resurrection. With that I'm putting together a family devotional for the days leading up to Easter. Here is a picture of Ann Voskamp's Easter Tree (on it hang ornaments of pictures corresponding to the events leading to the death and resurrection of Jesus).

Once I have some more things nailed down, I will share them with you. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are celebrating Easter for what it truly is.


doddyj said...

I'm always so intrigued by your passion Rachael. It's awesome and inspiring. Keep up the creative posts, because this person appreciates your thoughts!

Rachel Sarah said...

Wonderful! Thank you.