19 April 2014

Easter, Me and Mine

I love chocolate as much as the next girl, but that's not why I love Easter. Cute little bunnies and hunting for eggs don't really do that much for me, though I'm not opposed to either. Hot Cross Buns...? Mmmmm, even better than the chocolate in my book, but that's still not what makes this time of year special for me.

Easter is the most significant date in the Christian calendar. It's more of a big deal than Christmas, more meaningful, more essential to my faith.
Without Easter, Christianity wouldn't exist. I certainly wouldn't be sitting here on a Saturday typing this, feeling compelled to write something that expresses the depth of my feeling about the true meaning behind this holiday.

I was flicking through the TV Guide searching for something - anything - that the programmers might have done as a nod of respect to Good Friday or Resurrection Sunday. I found Enchanted, The Wizard of Oz, Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion and Hop. At least Hop is in keeping with the chocolatey aspects of Easter, but it truly bothered me that there was not one single programme relating to the true meaning: Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

Easter gives us all a holiday. Couldn't the powers-that-be have at least buried the Passion of the Christ  (or Jesus of Nazareth) after midnight somewhere? Just a nod to the guy who bled and died so we could have a long weekend?

[Nan and Grandad joined us for our Easter Dinner; we were kind and didn't make anyone dress up this year]

It really can be hard sometimes in such a secular world to keep the traditions and meaning alive not just for yourself and your own faith, but to pass them on to your children.
When everything is all about eggs and bunnies, and Jesus doesn't get a mention anywhere, you have to be pretty deliberate or the meaning will start to erode right in your own back yard.

My early schooling was at Catholic School, so the meaning of Easter was front and centre for weeks leading up to it. There was Ash Wednesday and giving things up for Lent; there were masses and Easter cards (with crosses, not bunnies). I was just a little girl but I counted down sleeps imagining what Jesus was going through "this time one-thousand-nine-hundred-and-seventy-eight years ago".
It was so real to me; his sacrifice and his suffering made a huge impression.
(Hats off to the Catholics for being so awesome at keeping beautiful traditions - something I think us "Happy Clappies" can learn a lot from).

On Easter Thursday night I was right there with Peter as he stood around the fire in the courtyard, wanting to stay true to Jesus but scared what might happen if he admitted to following him. I knew I would have denied him too; I understand the pain he felt when Jesus looked at him when the cock crowed.
Good Friday night I felt hollow and empty as I imagined what Mary Magdalene felt when she saw Jesus laid in the tomb; I imagined her tears on Sunday morning when she thought someone had stolen his body and her unbelievable joy when the man she thought was the gardener turned out to be Jesus, resurrected, who cared enough about her to wipe her tears away.

Now as an adult I have more understanding of what Jesus went through, both physically, emotionally, spiritually. It moves me deeply that He went through all that for us; that He loved us enough to stay hanging on that Cross (when he could have called the angels to get him down), in the hope that we would choose Him, and be reconciled to God through Him.

Faith can't be put upon anyone. I can't make my children into Christians, I can't force them to choose Christ. I can only hope that they find a faith of their own, that Jesus becomes real to them, that his love and sacrifice makes an impression on them as it did for me.

What I can do is share what it means to me. I can tell them the stories and pass on the insights. The rest is between them and God.

So each Easter, amidst plenty of eye-rolling we plan an Easter dinner. There is not a bunny or a chocolate egg in sight (though those do show up Sunday). We have candles, we eat spiced lamb, pita bread, hummus and olives. We drink red wine (or grape juice).

By the time we sit down to our Easter feast there is no more eye rolling. They are into it after all. We tell the story around the table. The kids ask questions and share what they know. We take a moment, pause, and focus on Jesus.

We do this in remembrance of Him. His body, broken for us; His blood, shed for us.
We ponder the curtain in the Temple that tore from top to bottom when He died, to symbolise that the way was now open between God and humanity.

It's worth celebrating, worth remembering and worth paying tribute to.

Happy Easter everyone ... I hope you can take a moment to think about the reason for the season while you munch your chocolate eggs.


We started doing Easter dinners back in 2009 when the kids were really little.
The first year Mr G and I dressed up as "Peter" and "Mary" and time travelled from 30AD to tell the story of what happened. Other years we've had friends over, dressed up in sheets and towels, eaten delicious food.
Here is our collection of Easter Dinners through the years...

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