Monday, March 21, 2016

Anticipating Easter - Exalting Christ

Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, is just around the corner. Need some fresh, Christ-focused ideas on how to savor this most epic of holidays? If yes, read on.  This is a guest post by April, who I am very excited to introduce you to today!
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First, the confession - I love holidays. I love the memory-making, epic God-story-recalling time-capsule each holiday tradition offers to my family. Holidays punctuate and adorn our sometimes mundane family routine. During holidays I have extra motivation to rally myself and pass on to the next generation the grand story of God’s work in History past and what is yet to come. God’s always been up to something grand, for His great glory and our great good. Carpe diem! Let’s remember what it is and explain it to our kids!

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Meditating and Mommy’s Attitude

So where should we invest our (very limited) time and energy this holiday? I have some simple, intentional ideas to make it a season your family savors year after year. I pray you walk away from this screen excited, not burdened with more on your mental list of things to do. Remember, Christianity is spelled DONE, not DO. Through Jesus perfect life and sacrifice of himself on Good Friday, he fulfilled all God’s legal requirements held up against us (Col. 2:14). So if you do nothing else, rejoice in the Gospel! Christ has made you free from the penalty and power of sin!

The most influential gift you as Mom can bring to any holiday, especially Easter, is your attitude. So set aside some special time with God to see and savor Him. I recommend I Corinthians 15 (about the ramifications of the resurrection) and John 14-17 (Jesus “last words” for His followers) for your quiet time feast. Remember if you do nothing else to prepare for Easter besides this, like Martha’s sister Mary, you’ve chosen the best thing (Luke 10:42).

I don’t know about your kids, but mine generally “catch” the bug of however I feel about life on any given day. So if we do nothing else, let’s savor Christ. Let’s petition Him to make us a part of diffusing His sweet aroma (2 Cor. 2:14). He was crushed and poured out for us! Excited, humbled amazement would be fitting, I’d say.

Maximizing Music

Is it even possible to have a Great Holy Day without great music? I think not. We all know it’s easy to get music to the max during Christmas time on most any radio station, yet Easter remains largely ignored in the public music world. All lyrical music plants thoughts, which give rise to emotions, which eventually lead to actions. For example, just hearing Frank Sinatra’s deep voice lilt into the first few words of “Have yourself a merry little …” makes me want to get all cozy in a fuzzy red blanket by the fire, hold hot cinnamon tea and watch the Christmas tree lights sparkle.

So let’s start making meaningful memories with music for Easter! Create a list of songs you’d like your family to associate with the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. There really is SO much good music out there to pull from for this high holy day. Why? Because to some extent this is what the Church celebrates every Sunday. Jesus paid it all! Christ is risen from the dead! Hallelujah what a Savior! I began making note of songs which pointed me to wonder and rejoice over these great Gospel truths, then I added them to a playlist I entitled “Expecting Easter”. It’s a beautiful, resounding work in process. Here’s a peek at what I have streaming through our speakers. (I’d love to hear what you choose too.)

Share the Account

Another way our family anticipates this holiday is by doing a count-down to Easter with specific daily scripture readings. At the end of each day’s reading we open a specially prepared plastic egg that contains an item to remind us of that day’s account. Obviously the kids love to see the “surprise” while making the connection to the verses they just heard. There are many DIY ideas using Resurrection Eggs available online. But if you’re short on time, this one from Christian Preschool Printables only requires printing and snipping!

Or if you prefer to click and ship, Amazon has a few options (my favorite are the ones in the first box by Family Life):

Here is a picture of my son (with a peanut butter stained shirt and all) enjoying the eggs I prepared a few years ago. I found plastic eggs that were colored on one half and clear on the other. I added special items to these eggs and then taped them shut. Now even my toddlers can enjoy handling our Resurrection Eggs without destroying the contents. ;)

Another group-participation, multi-sensory tradition we enjoy includes a bit of role playing. First we build a miniature “tomb” in our yard. (This year a pile of landscaping stones serves the purpose. But you can do it in any soil just as well. If your structure needs some support use a mostly buried wide-mouth container on its side for the tomb opening.)

After the Good Friday reading, we wrap a paper cutout of Jesus in white cloth and place him in that tomb, rolling a heavy stone over the opening. We talk about how sad Jesus’ friends must have felt that day and how great Jesus’ trust and obedience was toward his Father. Then, on Easter morning, we excitedly take the kids back to the tomb, exclaiming that something amazing has happened. And there the tomb is - open and empty, but for the strips of grave cloth. Together we celebrate that Jesus is alive!

Unciatim and a Calendar Carousel

Don’t worry, busy mother, about fitting everything in this year. The great thing about holidays is the way they come around again and again. God has built in an ever deepening, reinforcement training system through these perennial calendar events. This is spiral learning and teaching from rest at its best.

While planning your Easter agenda, it’s helpful to picture a luggage carousel rather than a grocery conveyor belt. This holiday will come around again, so build on your family traditions each year. Don’t feel you have to do it all this, or any, year. You Latin learning mommas can add this to your vocabulary list: unciatim - [take it] little-by-little.

Let’s be prayerfully intentional with these moments of intensive motherhood, but not paralyzed by guilt or fear that we can’t do it “all” or do it “right”. Focus on the King of Easter, following His peace-giving leadership. He will show us where to invest our Gospel-motivated energies for our families’ good and His glory! Now go carpe diem in Christ.

This is written with the assumption you have already met Jesus in a forgiveness-seeking, life altering way. If this isn’t yet true of you, please start by asking God to show you the truth about who He is. I suggest reading the gospel of John in the Bible and “What Must I Believe to be Saved” by John Piper. (That link is to the audio and transcript versions, below is a video of the Q&A.)

April is a wife, mother and energetic explorer and explainer. When not cooking, cleaning or cuddling (a.k.a. on rare occasion), you can find her rollerblading in the sunshine to stirring soundtracks. April learned the joys and rigors of home school life as a student K-12, then studied at Jackson Hole Bible college and Northern Kentucky University. She worked as a classical educator before turning stay-at-home-mom.

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  1. What good thoughts, April! Thanks for the encouragement! My CLASSIC Easter song memory from growing up is Kieth Green's Easter Song. Still brings me back to being a kid getting ready for church. :)

  2. What lovely Easter traditions you have! My church always sings the Hallelujah Chorus after the Easter service. It makes a stunning addition to the day. :-)


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