On Saturday, as I was doing my weekly shop at the supermarket, the cashier commented on the Easter goodies I had in my trolley. ‘I love Easter!’ she exclaimed. ‘You go to bed on Saturday night and wake up on Sunday morning and there are hot cross buns and chocolates and everyone is happy!’ When I was younger, I loved Easter too. What’s not to love? I would get a new ‘Easter outfit’, and I’ve always been a chocoholic, so the eggs were right up my alley! The night before the big day I’d be filled anticipation for the beautiful, loaded basket that giant rabbit would drop off in exchange for the large carrot left as an offering of gratitude…and yes, I believed!
From the crack of dawn, my brother and I would be up, hunting our loot, allowed to eat a few small eggs before breakfast. Church was fun, because we’d get to show off our new outfits and compare egg stashes with the other kids. Throughout the day we would be endowed with more and more – marshmallows, chocolate bunnies and Smartie-filled eggs.
And somewhere during the weekend there would be some mention of Jesus?
Don’t get me wrong! I love creating traditions, particularly if they involve family togetherness and the forming of memories. But I am sure that in my mind when I was growing up, and for many still today – Easter is a holiday about fun and chocolate and a fair bit of self-indulgence.
But perhaps Easter is all about me? At least – that’s what Jesus would say. He lived in our challenging, abusive, hurt-filled world for me. He died a brutal death, for me. He defeated death and lives on, for me. In the book of Romans it says, ‘But God demonstrates His love for us in this: Christ died for us.’
So now as I plan my family’s Easter celebration and traditions, I try to ensure there is recognition of what these holidays, or more accurately, holy days, are all about. Perhaps we could spend a little time remembering Jesus who brought each of us so much more than a basket of sugared treats. We could spend some time being still, soaking in God’s eternal expression of love that encompassed the very first Easter. We could ponder some of the symbols filled with meaning that surround the Easter story. We could attend a church service to refocus our minds and hearts on Jesus. In the spirit of gratitude we could write Jesus a sincere letter of thanks. We could encourage our children to draw or make a gift to express grateful hearts.
God doesn’t want us to stop enjoying fun times or eliminate lasting family traditions or replace them with obligatory religious ritual. He doesn’t expect us to spend the entire long weekend in solemn mourning. He loves to see us smile, hug and enjoy treats. But I believe He’d delight even more in the way our hearts would respond to some intentional recognition of the ultimate gift and sacrifice of His Son, because after all, Easter is all about us.
Happy Easter and God bless!
Janine de Paiva
Junior School Chaplain