When I was four years old I got into bull nettles down at the family farm on Easter. When I was six I rode a horse for the first time at the same family gathering. I caught a chicken the next year and was super happy until my uncle yelled at me for picking the chicken up. Apparently if you catch them they won’t lay eggs anymore. (Who knew???)
So I guess you could say my relationship with Easter started off mostly hit and miss.
And while I’m at it, let me admit to you that it wasn’t until I was fourteen years old that I even knew you could go to church on Easter. True story. My family always went down to the family farm and I had no clue church was even open that Sunday. I thought everybody just hung out and ate barbecue like we did!
For those reasons, and maybe a few more, the Easter season was not a big thing for me growing up or even during college and seminary. It turns out, though, that Easter is the holiest day on the Christian calendar. (I didn’t know that existed until I was in seminary.) Accordingly, I’ve had to adjust my approach to Easter in order to take it in and put myself in a position to be moved by it in the way God might be intending.
Here are five ways I try to get the most out of the Easter season that I hope will be helpful to you, too:
Buy Easter Candy – There is nothing spiritual about this, unless you equate sugar highs with spirituality. It just helps me get in the mood for Easter. If you’re wondering, I prefer to get the Marshmallow Eggs, jelly beans, and things like that.
Read the story – Does it seem to you that we always read the Christmas story, but we never read the Easter story? Me too. I try to read through the Easter story every year the same way I would the Christmas story. I find out something new about myself and my faith every time I read it. Try reading from the moment Jesus begins heading to Jerusalem for the last time.
Focus on the Resurrection – We generally end up thinking about the cross when it’s Easter time. In a society that focuses on Penal Substitution as the primary belief about the Atonement, that makes sense. But can I tell you that the starting point of our faith is not there? It’s in the Resurrection. The thing that gives us hope that we can be saved is Jesus’s victory over death. The fact that he rose again from the dead because he was God and sinless means much more to me than that he just happened to die. Lots of people died on crosses in those days, but only one has ever risen from the dead.
Find a song that resonates with you – Music is sometimes as powerful as the sense of smell. Like when you hear a song and it takes you back to 1998 and you remember yourself wearing super baggy jeans and the original issue Jordan’s. You sing along, too, because you still know every word. Chicka chicka Slim Shady. Music is powerful and the right song can communicate truths that we want to keep close to us at all times. What if you found a song that you really stuck to during the Easter season and it always reminded you of things you wanted to remember about Jesus? Right now, my Easter song is Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. My song last year was Death in His Grave by John Mark MacMillan. Yes, you can steal those.
Spend time with family and friends – My favorite Easter memories are the ones with my family and it’s not just because my grandparents put money in some of the eggs during the egg hunt. It’s because we were all celebrating together, even if some of us didn’t understand the truth we were celebrating yet. When you celebrate with your kids, you teach them things they will remember forever. When you invite your friends over, you have the opportunity to share about what Easter means for you, personally, whether they are believers or not. Just putting yourself in proximity of friends and family on this day that’s so widely celebrated opens up opportunities for growth for both you and them.
So those are the things I do. What about you? What is it that you do? How do you make the most of your Easter season?