Close your eyes and think of Easter. What images come to mind? In addition to Christ’s cross on a hill, I saw beautiful Spring flowers, brightly colored candies, and Cadbury eggs.
We celebrated Easter in my home growing up, but not nearly as much as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once Sunday morning service was over, the celebration was mostly over as well; but, this was not the case in Eric’s family – they had guests over, served lamb, and created wonderful memories.
It is in our nature to consider our personal life experiences as normal. Even if others find our family traditions odd, to us, they are simply life as usual. When I became aware of Eric’s family’s Easter tradition, I did not take it seriously at first. My attitude was, “Oh, that’s nice. Company and lamb sound dandy.” It was not until Easter approached that I realized he was serious about continuing this tradition. It is a part of who he is at his core. He goes along with me (for the most part) on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Easter is his holiday; and, this became clear to me the year I forgot to buy lamb. We went to three grocery stores the day before Easter and almost did not find any. Not only was he frustrated, but he was also hurt by my lack of care and follow-through. (Lesson learned, Honey! Get the lamb early and freeze it! [This year’s lamb is currently in our freezer!])
Do you have a tradition you hold as dearly as Eric holds his Easter lamb dinner tradition? If not, consider adopting one or several of the following ideas for your Easter celebrations:
- Sunrise Worship. Before you say, “Heather, I cannot function before noon!” let me say that I too do not appreciate mornings as I should. However, once a year, we can all rise early and take in the majesty of the sunrise while contemplating what it must have been like on the morning Christ rose from the grave. Whether you attend a sunrise church service or have a family service before heading to your local church, consider making this ritual a part of your family culture.
- Neighborhood Easter Baskets. This option will require a financial investment. If you have the funds, gather special treats, gospel tracts, Bibles, and some toys, arrange them in Easter Baskets, and pass them out to your neighbors. You can make child baskets and adult baskets. Whether it is a small basket with a bit of candy or a large basket filled with gift cards and high-end goodies, most anyone will appreciate receiving a Easter basket – especially handed to them by an adorable child. Passing out yummy goodies is surely a tradition your future children will look forward to each year. (It’s like Halloween – in reverse!)
- Write a Worship Song or Poem as a Family Each Year. Personally, I have no problem with children enjoying Easter baskets, brightly colored eggs hunts, and stuffed animals on Resurrection Sunday. There are some who prefer to leave the secular side of Easter behind and I also do not despise their opinion. On the flip side, it is easy to get caught up in springtime fun and forget about the hope we have in Christ because of His great sacrifice. Working together as a couple (and later as a family), creating a yearly poem of thanks is a sweet tradition and one you will enjoy looking back on as the years pass. Keep a notebook of your poems and songs and read (or sing) through them each year.
- Family Dinner. As I mentioned earlier, Easter was important in my childhood home – though only celebrated until about noon or so. Donning an Easter dress was a must – and, some years, finding one caused unnecessary stress. I woke up to an Easter basket each year without fail. We celebrated Christ’s resurrection during morning worship, but the rest of the day was the same as any other Sunday. Such was not the tradition in Eric’s childhood home. Each year his mom made lamb, and they had families come to their home and celebrate with them. Once I got over my fear of cooking lamb, Easter dinner became one of our dearly held celebrations.
- Create a Forgiveness Box. List anger or frustrations you have towards others, pray over your list, ask God for His grace to let go of your bitterness, and drop your list in the forgiveness box. Sometimes we carry unforgiveness in our hearts without realizing it. Have you ever been minding your own business only to have a “random” negative memory sucker-punch you? It happens to me more than I care to admit. It is only by God’s grace we can forgive those who have hurt us. But, what better reason do we need to forgive our offenders than the fact that Christ gave His life so that we could be forgiven? Use this season to search your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anybody you need to forgive.
- Host an Annual Easter Egg Hunt. One special way to bless your neighbors and to celebrate Christ’s resurrection is by hosting an Easter egg hunt and party at your home. You can create a comfortable atmosphere where even shy people can get to know each other better. And, who does not love watching little ones scamper around looking for eggs? Is there anything cuter? Having this outreach once a year can create good will and gospel-sharing My childhood mentor was one of the most caring ladies in our neighborhood, and her hospitable nature turned her home into a haven of rest for the weary, worried, and burdened. On Easter Sunday, you may be the house who is hosting the Easter egg hunt, but in two months you might be the house with that sweet family who will pray for our sick child.
- Join a Passion Play Together. Do either you or your sweetheart enjoy acting? Consider taking part in a yearly passion play. If you are not involved in a church or community that puts one on, can you take the reins and organize one?
- Affirmation Eggs. Do you have any leftover plastic eggs? If so, use them to speak life into your friends’ and families’ hearts. Take a dozen or so plastic eggs and place hope-filled messages in each one along with a corresponding scripture and then hide them around your house, your office, or in other special places. Christ said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV). Pouring hope and encouragement into others is one of many gifts we can give as Christ-followers. In honor of Christ’s resurrection, and as a celebration of our new life in Christ (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17), let us share uplifting truths with those we love – and especially with ones we struggle to love. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV).
- Family Trip. Maybe you and your sweetie are not fond of tradition? Maybe your idea of a great celebration is to go on a random trip each Easter holiday. Not every Christian agrees with me on this, but I believe where you spend the Easter holiday is not important. As believers, our daily lives should be a continuous celebration of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Our heart attitude towards Christ’s sacrifice is far more important than manmade traditions.
- Share the Gospel. “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’” (Mark 16:15, ESV). As a family, will you go outside of your comfort zone – shopping centers, parks, beach fronts – and proclaim the gospel to all the world? What better day of the year to begin sharing the gospel with others than the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection? You may feel terrified the first few times. Your instinct might be to turn away and do something less confrontational. Such an experience will not only bless you (as a doer of the Word [ref. James 1:22]) and those who hear (even if they do not appear blessed in the moment), but it will create a deeper bond between you and your loved ones. Also, it is wise to share the gospel in groups of two or more.
Though it was strange to transition from my low-key Easter celebrations to annually hosting a lamb-filled gathering at my home, I am thankful Eric opened my world up in this way. Compromising and reordering your world is not always easy when you enter a new relationship, but after a few years, you may wonder how you ever lived without your favorite new traditions.
Eric and I wish you all a blessed Resurrection Sunday. We pray you meditate on the amazing gift God gave to the world and the hope we have because of Christ’s sacrifice. This is not the first time I have posted this song, but it is one of my absolute favorites and so appropriate for this time of year – Jesus, Thank You.
God, we give You all the glory for who You are, and we thank You for the gift of Your only Son.
What new traditions are you and your special someone planning to add to your Easter celebration this year?
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