Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Adding Meaning to Your Easter Celebration

Making Jesus the center of your family's celebration can present a challenge when images of the Easter Bunny are so prevalent. Parents must take special measures to help kids understand that Jesus is the giver of Easter gifts-His love, His sacrificial death, the salvation we have through Him-not a big rabbit who hands out candy and colored eggs.

Here are some ideas for putting the spiritual significance back into your Easter celebration.

* Put a spiritual twist on the tradition of decorating Easter eggs. Before dying the hard-boiled eggs, use crayons to write an Easter message on each egg. Because the crayon wax keeps the dye from adhering in those spots, your "Jesus is Risen" and "Jesus Died for You" messages will show through clearly.

* If your church does not celebrate Holy Week, attend Holy Week services at a church that does. Or celebrate each day as a family by reading passages of scripture that recount what each special day commemorates.

* Attend an Easter cantata presented by a church other than the one your family normally attends. This allows family members to experience a celebration of Easter that is different than that to which they are accustomed.

* As a family, choose a few craft projects that emphasis the meaning of Easter. Do an Internet search or check out books from the library for ideas. Use your completed projects to decorate your home for your family celebration.

* Celebrate the Resurrection of Christ by doing the kinds of things Jesus came to earth to do. Extend God's love to others by visiting the elderly and sick, gathering up clothing to take to a homeless shelter, or making and delivering food baskets to families in need.

* If you don't usually do so, attend a sunrise service so your family can experience a little of what Jesus' followers must have felt the morning they found the empty tomb. Afterwards, enjoy a big family breakfast in celebration of the Risen Lord.

* Do some research on how the Resurrection is celebrated in other cultures. Turn the Easter celebration into a learning experience by enjoying traditional Easter foods and activities from another country.

* Many churches make Easter crosses by attaching real flowers in some fashion to a wooden cross to symbolize the new life brought to us through Jesus' death. Make your own family Easter cross by cutting out a large cross from brown construction paper. Let the children use construction paper, markers, crayons and paint to create flowers to decorate it.

Nancy Twigg is a Christian speaker and author who loves inspiring others to live more simply. Adapted from Nancy's book, Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Celebrating Holy Week as a Family

HolyWeekTreasureMap-HQ Today(4.6.09) marks the beginning of Holy Week, which is the week before Easter.  I decided years ago that we would use this week to closely examine the last week of Jesus life on Earth & the reasons for his coming.  It has proven to be a wonderful time together as a family every year.

We use this Easter Study as a guide.  Sometimes we add a little to it & other times we don't do what it says, only read the scriptures.  There are suggested activities to do with your children & lots of links to help you dive a little deeper.

We read together as a family the Gospel account of the last days of Jesus.  We let the older kids take turns reading & sometimes my husband will read it.  But, letting your children read will keep them involved and focused. 

After we read the scriptures we discuss to make sure they understand what just happened.  Then we let the kids(my younger ones) do something to help them remember what we discussed.  Many times this is acting out the passage.  Mom or Dad will read as narrator as the kids act out what is going on. 

The last part of our time together is focused on application.  How can we apply what we have just read to our lives today?  What can we learn from Jesus life or the actions of others that can cause us to love God more?



authority-power-jesus Today's reading takes you to the Temple where Jesus drives out the sellers.  They were making a profit off of Passover.  What can we learn from this?  He tells them, "My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers."(Luke 19:46)  I grew up thinking that this was only speaking of the church building, but now I believe that it is more than that.  Discuss with your children what we let into our homes that could make our home into a "den of robbers".  What takes us away from His Truth of mercy & grace?  What about your heart & mind?  What do you let into your heart & mind that draws you away from the Lord?

Read Philippians 4:8 together.


Other neat resources to use this week:

The Children's Story Book, by Catherine Vos ~ A Bible for children, written as if told by a mother to her children.  Very accurate to scripture.

Suddenly One Morning, by Chuck Swindoll ~ Awesome read!!

Annie's Easter Website