Regaining the Meaning of Easter
From Easter egg hunts to extravagant brunches it can be easy to lose perspective of the real meaning of Easter. While all of those things are fun and harmless, sometimes our calendars get packed with so many activities during the spring that we don’t have time for Easter service or we are distracted because we are so exhausted. For those that work in full-time ministry or volunteer at a church, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all of the things that need to get done in order for others to enjoy Easter service too.
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11
Here are some ways that you can keep perspective of the real meaning of Easter as a family or small group.
Have a brunch with a message. Invite your friends, small group or you family over for brunch. Print out different verses or passages in the Bible pertaining to the resurrection of Christ. Ask people to share what Christ’s death and resurrection means to them. Be conscientious of those that might not want to share or read aloud. Sometimes it can be helpful to start with one or two people you know that are willing to share and have them go first and then open it up to others. Another creative thing to do is to create a table cloth keepsake. Find an inexpensive table cloth made of cloth material. Get fabric markers. Have guests write down their name date and an Easter memory or something God has done in their life this year. The table cloth can be brought out each year and people can add to it. It is fun to see what people write each year.
Read the story. In the days or weeks leading up to Easter take time as a family or small group to read the Easter story. Break up the passages into sections so that it is not overwhelming. It can also be great to read devotionals or children’s stories that are Easter themed to help you focus on the meaning and message of the season. It can be helpful to find a book or commentary that explains what is happening in the Easter story including how Jesus fulfilled the prophesies. Try to find books that are age-appropriate so that the group will be engaged. If you need help ask your pastor, youth pastor or children’s pastor for suggestions. Some of our favorite children’s books that can be a good reminder even for adults include: “A Very Happy Easter Prayer,” “The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story,” and “The Legend of the Sand Dollar: An Inspirational Story of Hope for Easter.”
Attend a Good Friday service. This can be difficult with Friday traffic and getting off work but try to make it a priority. Sometimes it is helpful to pack dinner or find a restaurant that is close by to eat dinner at so that you are not trying to eat dinner and rush out the door. Try to meet up with a friend or another family. Often when we make a commitment to meet others, it is harder to back out even if our day becomes hectic. You can even ask that friend to hold you accountable to making it to the service. Remind your family that Good Friday service is somber. Try to set the mood by having them reflect on what Christ did on the cross for them personally. If it is appropriate, consider watching “The Passion of Christ,” or “The Jesus Film,” so that everyone can reflect on the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection.
Pray and invite. Take time as a family, small group or individually to pray for friends and family members that don’t know Christ. Pray that God would soften their hearts to the Gospel message. Ask God to show you what might be holding them back from accepting Christ. It might have been something that happened to them, a spiritual question they have or that they have never been invited to church. Ask God to use you in their lives. Consider inviting them to Good Friday and Easter services. People are often more open to attending church when invited by a friend and when it is a major holiday. Try to share with them what to wear if your church has a certain expectation of what guests should wear for Easter and ease them into the service by explaining what is going to happen throughout the morning. Afterwards, if they are open to it, ask them what they thought about the message and extend an opportunity for a relationship with Christ.
Schedule a time of reflection. Even if we have good intentions, it can be easy to fill our calendar with lots of appointments and activities. One thing that can be helpful during a season of busyness is to set aside or schedule time for rest and reflection. In the days leading up to Easter, set aside an hour or two for yourself. Use it to read and pray. You might want to write a letter to God thanking him for what He has done in your life. It might be a time of prayer for all your friends and family that don’t know Christ. It might even be just taking a walk and praising God for His creation and for sending His Son so that we can experience eternal life with Him. When you schedule the time, ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable to keeping it. It might even encourage them to do something similar and then you can share what the time meant to you as you celebrated Easter.