that's by far the longest, most boring-looking title of a blog post by me ever. i wanted to say all of that front and center, but i promise, we're headed somewhere fun.
you probably hear it every year at christmas and again at easter. the difference between how our culture celebrates these holidays and what these holidays themselves are actually supposed to celebrate is huge.
christmas seems to get away with it more. its pretty justifiable to say that we all give each other buttloads of gifts because christmas is jesus' birthday and we want to show his love. the tree, the songs, stockings, santa...these all are at least partially rooted in biblical or jesus origins...even if you have to stretch to make it so.
but something about easter pushes the poles even farther apart. the resurrection is the whole flippin' point of christianity period forever amen. so while we are awed by the virgin birth, it is because we see the cross in that baby's future. the passion of christ is actually the heart and soul of everything that we have put our hearts and souls into.
so it seems like, if anything, the easter celebration should be MORE jesus-y than christmas.
and yet pastels, magic bunnies, plastic grass, candy eggs and heinous peeps are what we get. (though i do realize a lot of the easter traditions have cool links to new life, eternal life, etc. but i think these are much less well-known and easily secularized than st. nick's christian back story, for example).
easter is a bigger deal--the biggest--and yet it feels like the tendency is to make it a smaller or cheaper one.
ok that is my cultural report as a wanna-be sociologist or whatever. now here's how jesse and i have decided to parent in light of where things stand in suburban america in 2013.
first off, we completely understand families who decide to eschew entirely all the non-christian trappings of holidays. seriously: get it. love it. considered it ourselves. but we just landed somewhere a little to the side of that...probably because we're too lazy to actually be so vigilant.
this is NOT saying our way is right. this is saying our way is our way and it's the one we've arrived at after prayerfully considering and discussing how exactly to raise our american kids in the year 2013 to be passionate followers of an eternal god who came to live and die in israel 2000 years ago.
um, yeah, figuring this stuff out is almost as weird as it sounds.
we love both kinds of the magic of being human: the parts you need jesus for and the parts some would say you dont (atheists have joyful, loving moments too, after all). we want our kids to be part of the culture they live in and to experience both kinds of magic.
that said, we are dead- (or eternally alive, rather) serious about them knowing what is fun fluff and what is rock solid truth, and how to sort through--or even chuck out--all the sugar-infused, retail-supercharged, stimuli bonanza of holidays--to find their focus and their center in christ.
that is our mission statement and we are constantly working out what this looks like practically to a 2 and 3 year old.
we got an really spectacular tool for doing this yesterday. i went to judah's preschool (he goes to a christian preschool run by our old church) class easter party, and i watched and delighted as those little goobers did their egg hunt and played games and ate sugary snacks. then judah's wonderful teacher announced that coming home with each kid was a set of "resurrection eggs" and FYI there were some nails in them so maybe keep an eye on them.
when we got home and the kids were having snacks, i cracked open the carton having very little idea of what to expect and was THRILLED with what i saw: numbered eggs with little props inside each egg that told the story of easter.
i was about to cry when judah popped open egg number one and picked up the leaf inside. he immediately said, "mommy, dis is da palm leaf. jesus disciples put these down on the road so he didnt get dirty and dusty, and all the people yelled 'osanna! osanna!'"
i mean really.
after the kids went down for naps i went through the whole carton and was more and more enamored of this activity. exactly why i love it is in the epic title of this post.
we want to lay a foundation with our kids first and foremost so that all of the silly, fun things that arent overtly biblical about holidays, and life in general, always have strong roots in christ. it's not "taking back easter" because no culture or tradition could take that away from us, but it is saying, there's a super big, important, magical-beyond-comprehension reason that we do all these fun, celebratory things in life. it's giving our kids roots. and eventually they will realize that the "other" kind of magic that doesnt seem jesus-y on the outside, actually does come from him. all of joy and nature and love and everything that makes life HD and worth living is rooted in him also.
so in this example, we want to do the resurrection eggs with them every year, multiple times, so that these are the first easter egg memories they will have, and so that hopefully every egg they ever hunt for fun will remind them of jesus. we think this will be easier than trying to drag jesus into the egg story at 10 years old when all they care about is the snickers inside.
we feel like planting jesus seeds grows jesus fruit. will the fruit sometimes taste like jelly beans or sound like an action figure? maybe sometimes on certain branches. but the DNA (RNA, i guess, in the metaphor) of the fruit will be and point to jesus. it seems a better choice than growing little sugar-crazed, self-centered materialist sprouts first and then trying to just put jesus paint on top of them later and hoping it sinks in and sticks.
*note:this analogy isnt airtight. it's not one or the other. example: i am sugar-crazed, self-centered materialistic fruit. i was not raised with a constant rooting of christ in my life. he was something i chose to put on later in life. the cool thing about jesus though is that when i did, he just straight up transformed me into him-like fruit. he still is.
so the eggs! i'm sure this isnt a new idea by any means, but it was our first encounter and i wanted to share them here. i changed up a few things that the class set had and added some extra stuff. this activity is so deep and meaningful, yet it is cheap (i mean, ours was made for free), fast, easy, fun and reusable. it's the mother (mary) of all easter crafts in my book.
ours came already in the carton, but it would be even more fun to hide these like a "normal" egg hunt and have the kids find them first and then go through the story. this would make a great activity for a sunday school class or just one kiddo. okay i cant stop talking about the awesome possibilities of this thing so i'm just gonna show you:
decorate the top of the egg carton to make it spiffy and cover up all the egg carton words. you can let your kids help for more ownership, or be a control freak like me and make it simple. i went with the font i imagine the romans used at that time. because of theme, yall.
and since it's what's on the inside that counts, let's break it open!:
12 easter eggs, numbered (go wild with sharpies, stickers, whatever) and then the key taped or pasted inside the lid so it doesnt get lost. here is my printable version of the key that fits a standard carton top if you prefer to use it.
and really it's inside what's inside that REALLY counts here:
the 12 eggs-fillers we have in our set are:
cup/bread made from tinfoil and triscuit
3 dimes or silver washers
a thorn branch
a piece of braided rope with tinfoil spikes and tape handle
little wooden cross (we have a prefab one, but obv, you can DIY one easy)
a piece of purple cloth and a die
a piece of white cloth sprayed with perfume or yummy smelling oil
a little piece of paper folded like a book with THE BIBLE on front and a verse inside
but here again you can get creative. maybe you want to leave out the flogging of jesus for little ones that are easily disturbed. or maybe you want to add in another element of the story like praying in gethsemane or peter cutting off the guards ear and jesus putting it back on (a hit with little boys, surely!). go for it! the combos are almost limitless and allow for years of variation.
and here is the key (download here) to what each object means and you can tell your kids about (and they will quickly start telling you...it's amazing how much these visuals sink home the story.) along with scripture references for each element if you want to read along in your bible.
fun fact: judah's teacher sprayed his white fabric with some stank-ass nana perfume. it's very 1970's nursing home and so judah thinks you wrap dead bodies in stinky clothes now. also: that smell is all over my fingers!
we plan to do this every year and add and change elements in it to keep it fresh and exciting. seeing the kids open up each egg, not knowing what's inside but knowing they are going to hear or tell a story for each one is really fun for everyone involved.
it is for freedom that christ has set us free. we believe he wants us to live life and experience fun and eat the yummy treats that he gave us the power to create. but we want to make sure that in every magic moment of their childhood our kids can spot a thread running back from it to jesus himself. all good things come from him.
gang's all here. except for jesus in egg #11...dat tomb be empty, yall!
do yall do or know of any other cool activities to help kids keep jesus the focus of easter?