We recently downsized and moved to a smaller home. Even though we had tried to give away or throw away much of the extraneous “stuff” we had seemed to acquire over the years before the moving van came, there were still more boxes and furniture than we comfortably had room. Christmas decorations and other seasonal things got moved to the attic.
But, the one thing I was careful to set aside was a simple, vertical banner with a colorful display of Easter lilies and the words, “Easter brings HOPE.” I was anxious to display this small declaration in the exterior entryway to our new home, in hopes that our neighbors would see it, be inspired by it, or even ask us questions about it.
You see, as much as we love the pageantry and celebration of Christmas, if it were not for “The Hope of Holy Week” Christmas would mean nothing.
The story of a newborn baby in a manger somewhere in the Middle East is just a happy beginning to something without eternal consequence. We need the “rest of the story,” beyond the miracle of God taking on human flesh.
We need to know and believe He lived a sinless, holy life and then was brutally beaten and bloodied and died an ignominious death for us! He willfully endured this disdain, discomfort, and depravity and gave up His life on the cross because He loves us unconditionally!
Then, after three days in a borrowed grave, He rose from the dead and was seen by hundreds, before He ascended to heaven to prepare an eternal home for His disciples, where they can live with Him forever. Without this hope-filled conclusion, Christmas is just a story and occasion for secular celebrations, with twinkling lights, silver bells, and eggnog.
Barbara Rainey, who with her husband Dennis, lead the large outreach Family Life Ministries (Help for today; Hope for tomorrow) reminds us that Jesus never asked us to commemorate His birth, but He did command us to…remember His death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). In a recent ministry newsletter she offered four meaningful ways we might add holy happiness to our family’s celebration:
- Lengthen the Easter holiday experience. Make Easter a season, like Christmas, by starting your Easter preparation with Ash Wednesday and continuing through the 40 days of Lent. By preparing earlier you will have more time to focus on and teach your family about, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
And don’t stop at Easter. If you can leave Christmas lights up through the New Year, then you can carry on the joy, repeating, “Christ is risen!” daily for the 40 days until Ascension Day!
- In your home, fully display the importance of this holiest of holidays. The colors of Easter are red and white, not springy hues of pink, yellow, and green. Remember His blood, the color of red wine, which He commanded us to drink in remembrance of Him.
This year consider wearing all white or shades of off-white and soft khaki. Set an all-white table with lots of white candles and three crosses for your Resurrection Day feast to remember the purity of His life and death. Or center your table with a white lamb to celebrate our future as His bride at our marriage to the Lamb when we will be dressed in “fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:8).
- Worship with exuberance what Christ has done for us on Resurrection Sunday. Can you imagine what the women who went to the tomb felt when they saw Jesus alive? What about the disciples, and the multitudes? Like a groom who first sees his bride, I imagine beaming faces, tears of happiness, pure delight, and overflowing joy.
And I picture dancing. Psalm 149:3 invites us to “Praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre!” This is the kind of worship the resurrection calls for. Does your Easter day look like this? It should. St. Augustine wrote, “Learn to dance, so when you get to heaven the angels know what to do with you.” I want to be ready.
- Celebrate the sacrifice and miracle of Easter with others. When we understand more of the immensity of His sacrifice and as much as is possible, the depth of His love, our gratitude will lead to a celebration—with laughter and music and feasting—far surpassing that of Christmas. Make your Easter party grand, and if weather permits, have your lunch or dinner feast outside with lights and music and revelry. Invite friends and neighbors just as we do at Christmas. The watching world will take notice. Easter, the celebration of the cross and resurrection, should be a time of contagious, overflowing evangelism.
You can read more about Barbara’s work at EverThineHome.com.
May you and your family have a happy and hope-filled Resurrection Sunday!