Lent Starts Wednesday: Some Ideas to Observe the Easter Season Well With Your Kids
Easter is one of the few remaining holidays that has not been overwhelmingly appropriated by the consumerist industry. Yes, there are bunnies and eggs and pretty dresses. But we don't face the Easter season with the dread and to-do list and impending debt like we do Christmas. The lack of societal pressure to go big makes this a more enjoyable holiday for me. But the lack of advertising also allows it to sneak up on me.
Lent starts Wednesday, February 14th. As Reformed Christians my husband and kids and I have never really embraced Lent. We don't give anything up. Instead we attempt to focus on Jesus's sacrificial death and gift of eternal life through his resurrection.
With this season upon us, though, I want to encourage moms and dads to be intentional about preparing for Easter. As Christians this is our biggest holiday. This is really the point. Jesus's life and death, culminating in his resurrection, is the very center and focus of our faith. Let's look forward to it with our kids in some practical, tangible ways. Don't let Easter surprise you this year. And don't witness it with only chocolate eggs and bunnies--find some Christ-centered, Gospel-focused ways to meditate on this huge holiday with your kids.
Lay Down Your Life Calendar
This year I am going to sit down with my 10, 12, and 14 year olds and brainstorm 40 ways we can lay down our lives. We'll add one idea to each day of the calendar. I hope this will help us daily recall during this season that Jesus laid down his life and paid the ultimate price on our behalf. How can we lay our lives down? Visit grandpa at the nursing home? Take a meal to a neighbor? Do a sister's chore? Send some dog-sitting earnings to one of our Compassion kids? I find it way too easy for our family (especially myself!) to be self-focused and ignorant or avoidant of the needs in our sphere. This practice will by no means earn us favor or salvation or God's love, but it will help us honor the Lord and serve others.
Read A Family Story for Easter
Amon's Adventure is a favorite in our family. We love this book and the others like it, which are written for Advent. It's historical fiction and draws the reader in to the setting of the first century. The author imagines the stories and lives of Biblical characters who were involved in the first Easter. In a scripture-honoring way (not hokey or too imaginative or taking license) you are pulled onto the dusty roads that Jesus walked, the conversations of his captors, the lifestyles of kids in that time, and more. It brings Jesus's life, death, and resurrection to life for the whole family. Order it quick!
You could make an Easter tree with your kids (several ideas can be found online--similar to a Jesse Tree at Advent). You could spend extra time in your children's Bibles together soaking up scenes from the Jesus's life--print coloring pages of make crafts from various scenes. You could act out various scenes together as a family. Here are two favorite resources of mine:
If you have an Easter egg hunt as a family (or in your church or your neighborhood) I highly recommend that you add Resurrection Eggs to the mix. We've used these for at least 15 years and they are a perfect way to share the resurrection story in an egg hunt setting. They've even been helpful overseas for use with groups who don't all speak the same first language.
Bottom Line: Just Do Something
Don't fret too much over these activities (or any others all year long for that matter!). Now that I'm almost 15 years into this parenting thing, I have seen the payoff of small, but deliberate and consistent, acts. We fail every year to keep up 100% with our daily Bible reading. Our Advent activities go unfinished. Our devotionals see the light of day about 50% of the time. But rather than throwing in the towel when we miss a day (or ten), we just pick up where we left off and keep going.
Just do something, just have a conversation, just point something out--these small things really do add up. You don't have to be a Pinterest mom or a theologian dad. I promise that your kids will absorb the traditions and priorities of your home, even if you don't get them done every day or in an Instagram worthy way. Just do something to prepare for Easter--it's our biggest day!