Celebrating Easter: Traditions and Takeaways

Easter is surely one of the biggest celebrations in the Christian church.  While Christmas brings news and celebration of Christ’s coming, Easter communicates what Jesus Christ came to accomplish on earth.  So if Christmas is the “Who”, then Easter is the “What”, “When”, “Where”, and – most importantly – the “Why”.  It’s a celebration of the fulfillment of God’s plan to redeem mankind.  But, unlike Christmas, Easter doesn’t hold quite the cultural hype and the months of planning, shopping, and celebrating.  And I like it that way.

Photo Mar 29, 8 36 24 PMI think back to my childhood celebrations of Easter, which mostly centered around attending church in a pretty new dress that likely coordinated with my sisters’.  Our church had a tradition in which a tall, mossy cross was displayed outside of the sanctuary on Palm Sunday, and – on Easter – each person brought fresh-picked flowers from their yard, from Publix if you were fancy, or from the azalea plant on the side of the church property if you were late.  [COME AS YOU ARE, PEOPLE.]  Families would add the flowers to the cross to transform it from mossy and boring, to bright and alive.  I loved the metaphor of that.  Of course, when we got home, we always did an Easter egg hunt and ate far too much candy for a Sunday morning like the rest of America.

Now as I have my own growing family, I wanted to do a little bit of “research” into other traditions and activities people do to acknowledge and celebrate this holiday and the Jesus who made it all worth celebrating.  So, since I’m not in graduate school any longer, I was free to use Facebook as a credible source, and I found several great ideas.

  • Make a “resurrection garden”, representing the cross and the tomb – a hands-on activity you can make with your kiddos who are old enough to NOT eat gravel.  A great description of the how-to can be found on Kristen Welch’s blog here: http://wearethatfamily.com/2012/03/diy-mini-resurrection-garden/.  Ann Voskamp has a variation on the resurrection garden and calls it the “grace garden”.  Her description (along with some really practical application of the project) can be found on her blog here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/03/a-family-christian-activity-for-easter-make-a-grace-garden-a-visual-parable/.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 1.48.10 PM
  • Curl up on the couch for a movie.  Suggestions include “The Ten Commandments” or “The Passion of the Christ”. Or, if you’re like me and can’t handle the heavy movies, “Veggie Tales ‘Twas the Night Before Easter” should do.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 1.47.52 PM
  • Keep an eye and ear out for local events and chances to connect with your community:  Easter Eggstravaganza is a fun event held by Chets (@ Chets Creek Elementary) every year on the Saturday before Easter (9:30-12).  Don’t miss it, and definitely bring a friend!  Another friend shared with me that the St. Mary’s Railroad has a special “Peter Cottontail Express” ride on the two Saturdays before Easter for all of you who, like me, have “choo-choo train” obsessed littles in your life (http://www.stmarysrailroad.com for more info).  Don’t forget to look out for neighborhood and other community egg hunts as a great opportunity to get to know and love on the people who live right near you!Eggstravaganza-slider
  • Attend a Seder dinner. The Passover Seder is a meal that involves a ritual retelling of the freeing of the Israelite slaves from Egypt, with foreshadowing of Jesus’ great rescue all over it.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 1.47.29 PM
  • Hide Easter baskets, candy, eggs for your children (or spouse) to find…inside the house or out.  Brace yourself for questions about how the Easter Bunny got inside if you choose the latter.  Sorry about those, mom.
  • Bake! Easter bread, resurrection rolls, bunny cakes.  Gather the family for some special time together and make a mess in the kitchen.  While you’re in the mood to make a mess, dye some eggs too.Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 1.53.19 PM
  • Go through the Resurrection Eggs.  This was a VERY popular response to my deep research on the matter of Easter.  I have heard of them, but have not used them myself, so I can’t wait to try them out when my kiddos are older!  Each egg is opened to find a small object inside representing a part of the story of Easter.  Put together, the story is told in full.  Some families open all 12 on Easter to narrate the resurrection, while others open one egg per day in the weeks leading up to Easter.  As a special treat, we are doing a GIVEAWAY of a set of Resurrection Eggs to one lucky reader!  Comment below (or comment on our Chets Women Facebook thread) to enter to win.  In your comment, share a tradition (new or already mentioned) that you have for Easter.  And be sure to share this post with friends and family!Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 2.05.49 PM

I hope these ideas will help you consider new ways to celebrate Easter with your family.  For me, traditions like these (Christ-focused or not) are always a fun way to get talking about the “Why” of the holiday.  If you’ve already got your traditions nailed down,  I hope looking through these can help you cherish the ways in which you already celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and all that Easter means.

Don’t forget about Easter at Chets, where we will have THREE services to celebrate as a church family: 8:30, 9:45, and 11:15.  See you there!easter-slider


{This article was written by Laura Wilson. Laura is wife to Aaron and mommy to a sweet and silly 2 year old boy who will have a sister come May. She serves with Chets Women by leading the Communications team. As a mom and pediatric speech language pathologist, she carries an artillery of goldfish and toys everywhere she goes. She loves learning more about the Lord from his word, her family, and Starbucks.}

Image is Everything

Photo Mar 10, 1 51 31 PMImage is everything. For so many women, and especially our generation of girls, this statement controls our lives. It dictates what we say, what we wear, what we eat, what we post on Instagram or Facebook, how we treat others, whom we choose to be friends with, and so on. Few of us get through a day without some thought of our image, of how others perceive us. One of my own very personal struggles is the struggle to be content with the woman God designed me to be—with my own unique gifts, abilities, and flaws—without fear or concern of how someone else will perceive or judge me. Why is this such a heart-wrenching struggle for us? Unfortunately, it begins in the hearts of girls at a young age, and without the pouring-in of God’s truth and love, it can get ugly…fast.

Seventy-five percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or eating disorders. Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they’ve ended up regretting later. Seven in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members (11 Facts About Teens). Beginning around the age of 10, girls become aware of and feel that they can’t measure up to unrealistic society standards.   THE AGE OF 10!! And it doesn’t stop here. With more and more girls upholding society and the media as moral compasses, consequently, we are entering womanhood emotionally bruised. And we say to others, “I don’t care what you think of me!” but, oh, how we do! As women, we must be image-bearers of Christ to our girls. We must help them to see that they are created in the image of our Father, and that it is only HIS standards we should seek to emulate.

Photo Mar 10, 1 50 04 PMI have lived most of my life in fear of judgment, in turmoil about what others might think of me. I have made poor choices, compromised values, sacrificed virtue…all in the name of pursuing approval of others, including those I don’t even know. The things we do for acceptance! You want to know how that’s worked out for me? Sleepless nights, broken hearts, wounded relationships, migraines, stress, physical exhaustion…it’s hard keeping up with the Joneses! So, here’s the deal…God’s truth tells us that we’ve already been accepted, not only accepted, but CHOSEN, HAND-PICKED by our Father: “But you are a CHOSEN people, a ROYAL priesthood, a holy nation, God’s SPECIAL possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). What’s so cool is that we are all broken, but God chooses us in that state! He loves us as we are. He stands ready to embrace our brokenness and heal us if we will be real with Him and let go of our self-made image. The Gospel of John tells us that “He must become greater and greater and [we] must become less and less” (3:30). Our image should be driven more by who GOD is and less by who WE are.

Photo Feb 04, 6 27 13 PMI’m broken. You’re broken. Everyone is broken in some way. But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus wants to bring healing to us, healing that allows us to use our brokenness for His glory. And as He reveals His image to us more and more, we can reflect His goodness, love, and mercy to the girls in our shadows who are desperately seeking a holy standard with which to align their hearts. We must reflect an image that is worth emulating.

So image IS everything. It’s our reflection of our Father’s image that influences the world for Jesus. And isn’t bringing Jesus to the world everything?

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?                                      Mark 8:36-37

Source:

“11 Facts About Teens and Self Esteem.” DoSomething.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.


{This post was written by April Tapp.  April is an Arkansas girl who is enjoying her newly transplanted life in sunny Florida.  She is married to Jeff, the Minister to Students at Chets Creek Church.  April has taken on a role to minister specifically to our young girls.  Jeff and April have two boys that keep April on her toes, especially when their fun involves surfing (read: sharks), skateboards, and high speeds.  She loves her Keurig, writing, teaching, and you’ll always see her in a great pair of earrings. If you’d like more info about Chets Students, check out http://hodges.chetscreek.com/students}