Saturday, March 30, 2013

A New Easter Tradition

Hi friends. I haven't blogged in a while. It's good to be back and get at least some of these thoughts that are swirling around out. This has been a season of uncertainty and confusion. I think God's telling me one thing, but then circumstances change and I feel uncertain. (More about that later though.)

Well, one lesson that I am certain that God is teaching me is to scale back. I feel called to scale back my busy schedule and to scale back my spending and to scale back my list of things I need to do to be a good mom and make good memories for my kids. I need less of this world and more of God's. And God's world is a world where the last are first and the rich are poor and people drop their dreams and ambitions and their entire livelihood to follow Jesus.

The living out of this lesson has manifested itself in different ways. For one, I try not to overbook myself for the week anymore. Sure there are the occasional busy weeks, but generally speaking, we do not do more than 2 field trips in a month or more than 3 outings in a week. I get stressed trying to fit everything into our schedule and my stress comes out on my kids, so it's just not worth it. Another thing I've done is to stop buying new stuff. Yep, if I can't find it second hand or if I can't make it, I have to seriously reconsider whether or not I "need" the item. And the third thing I've done is to try to be more intentional about how I express my faith and what traditions our family associates with the holidays (Holy days!) we celebrate.

This last thing is what I wanted to expound on tonight in light of the Holiest of days that we will be celebrating tomorrow. I have to admit that I didn't put too much thought into Easter this year. We have been fairly inconsistent about going through our 2 week Easter Devotional. I don't think we even read through Christ's crucifixion! (Please don't judge.) Part of the reason is because we've been blessed with a sweet newborn in our home. One of my closest friends, her toddler, and her husband (well, he's here on the weekends) has been with us for a few months while their family is transitioning to another town - right at the end of her pregnancy! Their little girl was born a week and a half ago, so we've been soaking in having a newborn in our home. I have to say that I am going to be one unhappy camper when they finally get settled into their new home.

Anyway, as Easter was getting closer and closer, my husband and I began to question the whole Easter bunnies, eggs, and over commercialized Easter that we see all around us. We started talking about what we didn't want to do, but had no idea what we did want to do. Luckily, some amazing friends of ours jump-started our road to building more meaningful Easter traditions by having a Passover meal at their home. This was a precious time of meeting new people, learning more about rich biblical history and traditions, and some fun fellowship. We couldn't walk away from that night and then do our normal Easter baskets filled with too much candy and too many toys followed by an Easter egg hunt. That just did not compare to the richness that we just experienced. But, I wanted my family to rejoice and celebrate Jesus' resurrection. So, the brainstorming began and we finally landed on something. It still doesn't feel as rich, but we hope that it will be fun and filled with meaning. And now, what you've all been waiting for, our magical Easter celebration will be  . . . a scavenger hunt. I know, it doesn't sound so grand. But there is meaning behind it and it should be fun. Below is the list of items and their meaning.

Water - Jesus showed how to be a servant leader by washing His disciples' feet
Sugar Cookie - Jesus' body, which was broken for us
Grape Juice - Jesus' blood, which was shed for us
A Flower - Jesus fervently prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the cup to be taken from Him
String - Jesus was whipped and beaten before being crucified
Thorn or stick - A crown of thorns was placed on Jesus' head to mock Him
Nail - Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the cross
Cross - Jesus was crucified on a cross to atone for our sins
Jellybeans - Jesus was placed in a tomb and a big stone was rolled in front of the grave
Empty container - After three days, Jesus' tomb was empty
Balloons - Jesus rose from the grave! He conquered death! Time to celebrate!

Our dinner will not be a big to do - fish, rice, veggies, and salad. We will have a yummy dessert and a day spent with people we love, but overall, we will reflect on how Christ has redeemed us. The true change in our tradition is simply that we will reflect more on Christ's love for us than on the things our culture says is important. I'm not sure if this scavenger hunt idea will stick. Maybe it will grow and develop over the years or maybe it will flop. I just want my children to know that we are celebrating Christ's resurrection, not new life or baby animals or spring.

My prayer is that these holy days will be a time for Christians to reflect on Christ's life, example, death and resurrection. When we make holidays about the toys or food or clothes we miss the message that Christ came to spread. We end up not honoring Christ at all, but instead put our focus on the things of this world that He warned us about. This scavenger hunt is just one idea of how you can celebrate Jesus' resurrection. Really, pulling out a board game or having a party or doing anything else that you would do to celebrate would honor God. I just want to encourage you to not get caught up on the dress and the ham and the presents, but to make memories and traditions that will truly honor God. Happy Easter!