The Empty Tomb and The Candy Filled Egg
I’m not exactly sure how the Resurrection of Jesus turned from the single most important event in all of human history into a story about a rabbit who delivers Easter eggs. Don’t get me wrong, I love dying eggs and seeing them hid in fields of wildflowers as much as anyone. I even like the colorful egg salad the next day. It’s a great way to welcome spring; I just fail to see what it has to do with Jesus. So this weekend alongside the Paas egg dye and chocolate rabbits, I want to fill our home with things that remind us what we are really celebrating. So here are 7 new traditions to add to your Easter celebration.
(None of these are actually new. In fact, some of them go back to biblical times, but each of them point to the real reason for Easter!)
1. Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns are a new tradition in our home even though they date back to 12th century England. When I was growing up, our typical Easter celebration consisted of Mini Eggs, Cadbury Eggs, and Peeps. Though I am still a sucker for Mini Eggs, I wanted something that pointed more towards Jesus and less at the barnyard. My little crew loves nothing more than rolling out dough, so these were a hit from start to finish!
Hot cross buns are a breakfast roll, filled with warm spices and raisins, and topped with a symbolic cross made from icing or marked on to the dough. We made the crosses with flour and water, then topped the buns with orange glaze! Find the recipe we used here. I would suggest soaking the raisins first in orange juice and adding orange zest to the glaze!
In so many other cultures, including Jewish culture, the meals served around a certain holiday tend to be symbolic of what is being celebrated. (We will discuss that more below!) We tend to not be as strong in that in our modern American culture. Gathering around the table for a family meal is never a bad idea, but when the food on the plate is a beautiful reminder of what we are celebrating- well, it doesn’t get much better than that!
2. Wash Someone’s Feet
Is there a sweeter way to celebrate our Servant King than to re-enact the very things He did leading up to the cross? Just imagine Jesus– the Word at the beginning, the Creator of all- kneeling down to wash the feet of His creation!
I know that this is not the most beautiful tradition in many ways, but something happens when you slide down to the floor- lower than someone else- and in love you begin to wash their feet. It is a humbling experience to be on either side of it. I remember when I was growing up, we would wash feet at church every fifth Sunday night. So many of the women were embarrassed. They would apologize for their outdated pedicures or sheepishly whisper that they washed their feet before church. None of that should matter!
It’s not about how polished you are, how put together, or even how clean. If our Holy, Holy, Holy God can step down from His throne and wash the feet of his disciples- including Judas. Then we can wash our neighbors or our family’s feet too!
Ah yes, more of that symbolic food we mentioned earlier! Communion is a sacred part of Christianity. It gets a bad reputation from time to time by the world, but we see Jesus at the last supper teaching us about communion. For those who don’t know, Passover is a time of unleavened bread. It is traditional within most Jewish communities to actually cleanse your home of all leaven products.
Passover, for the Jews, is a holiday of remembrance. It is a time to reflect on the slavery and bondage experienced in Egypt and to celebrate the God who rescued them.
After nine fierce plagues, God commanded that every first born in all the land of Egypt was to be killed- except for those with the blood of the Lamb on their door.
A Lamb had died in their place. Its blood applied to the doorposts, so that the first born in that home would live. At last, in his sorrow, Pharaoh let God’s people go.
The Israelites left Egypt so quickly their bread didn’t have time to rise. So they memorialized this moment by eating the unleavened bread, but Israel still owed God a first born.
I love the imagery of Isaac spared, Israel spared, David spared, on and on it goes. The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin. There was not a sacrifice large enough or a first born spotless enough to rescue God’s broken creation. So He sent His son. The firstborn. The first fruits. The Lamb of God.
Communion reminds us that His body was broken for us and His blood poured out for us. Now we can fellowship with God. Now we can be forgiven. We can be passed over!
4. Keep the Passover
Of course we just talked about Passover, so why not keep on the topic! Jesus fulfilled the Passover, and we no longer are under the law. We have no obligation to keep the Passover, but we do serve the same God who rescued the Israelites from Egypt. And we see Jesus as our perfect Passover lamb!
We no longer must eat the bitter herbs or leave out a chair for Elijah, but I think that keeping the Passover reminds us the magnitude of what we are celebrating. It is so much more than symbolic food, stories read around the table, and time with friends. The Seder allows us to step back in time. It gives us an opportunity to reminisce on our own lives before Jesus.
Remember when He called you out of bondage to sin just like the Israelites from slavery? Remember when He led you through impossible waters? Let a simple Seder (it doesn’t have to be fancy) grace your home. A memorial to what God has done for each of us and a reminder of the beauty of His Passion.
5. Show Kindness
This is never going to be a bad idea, regardless of the day or holiday. Showing kindness is a great way to celebrate within yourself but it is also a wonderful way to involve the family. Maybe you bake cookies and deliver to homeless people in your community. Perhaps you invite someone to church or take a meal to a family in need.
Giving is not supposed to be a big production, but rather a heartfelt and prayer filled moment. It is when we lay down our lives to lift up someone else’s. When our children witness that, we are giving them a gift far greater than anything an Easter bunny could bring.
6. Silent Saturday
Take time to be quiet. This is the hardest for me. I don’t know why but every time I decide that I need to practice stillness and being quiet, I simply can’t do it. I begin to hum, sing, talk to myself, or turn on a podcast without thinking.
On Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, Jesus’s body laid in silence. We know how the story ends so we often breeze through Saturday joyfully preparing for Sunday. What if instead we took time to be quiet? What if we slowed down and thought upon the darkest day in human history?
The day before, (Friday) our Savior was crucified. He hung on a cross, thorns upon His head, nails in his hands and feet, a spear driven into His side. Darkness covered the land. Death had won.
On Friday, all hope is lost.
On Sunday, everything changes.
But there is a day in between, a day of silence. Take time to embrace it. Take time to wait upon the Lord.
7. Attend a Church Service
This may already be on your agenda. Or maybe you’ve decided to stay home this year.
Your babies are little and they’ll probably be a distraction.
That’s already a busy day, an online service will be easier.
The service starts at sunrise and you don’t function until 9am on the weekends.
Let me encourage you, go anyways.
To the little old woman on the front pew, seeing you with your baby makes her whole week.
Online services can be great when you can’t make it to church because of sickness or life circumstances. But we need to get together with other believers. We need a community around us.
And for the non-functioning night owl grab a coffee and..
We need time together. Time to worship and rejoice as the body of Christ. If you haven’t been in a while or ever or if the church has offended you in some manner, pick this weekend to go anyways. Churches are not perfect, but we have a Savior worth celebrating, let’s celebrate Him together!