What are your Easter memories and traditions? As a little girl I loved Easter. What’s not to love? My sister and I always got a new “Easter outfit” which included a frilly dress of our choosing, lacy socks, shiny new patent leather mary janes, a hat and even little white gloves. No, I’m not nearing 80, that’s just the way my mom wanted to do things.
Coloring enough eggs to exhaust a barnyard of chickens, we were artistic geniuses. The night before the big day we’d be filled with butterflies of anticipation for the beautiful, loaded basket that giant rabbit would drop off in exchange for the large carrot left as an offering of gratitude…and yes, we believed!
Up at dawn, we’d marvel at the lovely loot bestowed upon us and eat a few pieces of candy before breakfast. Church was fun because we got to show off our new clothes and find out how much the Big Bunny liked other kids.
Off to Grandma’s house for Easter egg hunts until the last adult finally said no more. Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents sat down to a table laden with what we now call comfort food. Throughout the day we were depleting our stash as the marshmallow peeps, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and malted milk eggs were consumed.
Um…and there was something about Jesus. Any of this sounding familiar?
I’m not one to condemn any tradition that results in family togetherness and forming sweet memories, but perhaps there’s a better way. I realize now that the Easter celebration I grew up with was all about me: my appearance, my stash of goodies, my fun day.
Honestly, it’s still all about me…at least that’s what Jesus would say. He lived in our challenging, abusive, hurt-filled world for me. He died a brutal death, at the hands of hateful people for me. He defeated death and lives on, for me. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
For those who love the fun family traditions like I grew up with, maybe there could be two days of Easter celebrations. Perhaps Good Friday or even on Saturday, we could spend a little time remembering this man who brought each of us so much more than a wicker basketful of colored sugar. We could deliberately try to relate to Jesus by recalling our own (comparably shallow) experiences of pain and sacrifice for others. We could spend some time being still, soaking in God’s eternal expression of love that encompassed the very first Easter.
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! …” Psalm 105:1. We could write Him a sincere letter of thanks. We could teach our kids to draw a picture or use other artistic methods to create a gift expressing grateful hearts.
Our wonderful God doesn’t want us to throw away fun times or eliminate lasting traditions or replace them with a stiff, obligatory religious ritual. He loves to see us smile, hug and enjoy treats. But I believe He’d delight even more in the way our spirits would respond to an intentional interlude basking in His presence. Not for His sake because Easter is all about us, because what He did on the cross was certainly for each of us.
How do you separate the fun traditions and the true meaning of Easter? What was your Easter like growing up? Comment below.