Christian Easter with Children
I have nothing against bunnies or eggs – any more than hearts in February, or clovers in March, but I want my kids to know that the bunny is a thief :). Ok, really, I don’t think in my “WWJD” terms that Jesus would beat up a bunny, but the title grabbed attention. In serious terms, I want children to know the real meaning of Easter: when we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior who came to take away our sin so we can go to heaven for eternity. Wow. Look at those words:
Celebrate the RESURRECTION! of our SAVIOR! so we can live for ETERNITY!
Those words are too important to just pass over with an egg hunt and a new dress. It means everything to me, and I didn’t want to minimize it with a secular bunny and eggs. Before I lose you, the Bradys do color eggs – if I get them in time – and hide them in a fun tradition that spills into homeschool hunts during the spring. But I fail at decorating my house for Easter, and every year I intend to send out Resurrection cards instead of Christmas cards…which have yet to get done…because without Easter, Christmas is nothing. It is that monumental, so I thought I would tell of some ways that people have shared with me to teach children the REAL meaning in a fun and memorable way.
This was introduced to me by my dear friend, Carmen Madler. Her idea begins each year by taking their Christmas tree, cutting off all of the branches and saving part of one to use as the cross bar. For the 40 days and nights before the resurrection (signifying Jesus’ time when he was led by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, Matt 4:1-2), the Madlers tell a part of the story and place something on the tree: the crown of thorns, the sign which says, “King of the Jews“, the dice (signifying the “lots”) that the soldiers cast to try to win Christ’s clothing, etc. I love this idea, since it links the meaning between the two biblical events: Christ’s birth and resurrection – in a visual way that children will remember. Of course, the decoration in the home is a constant reminder for adults as well.
Easter Story Cookies
When I first attended a Bible study (bsfinternational.org) as a new mom, I remember a discussion about how to show the REAL meaning of Easter to children. The following recipe was shared, and became a tradition in our home – even though we had an egg allergy and couldn’t eat them; the message was good enough to keep the tradition. (And even now that the egg allergy is gone, the kids don’t really like to eat these cookies – they beg to make them for the story.)
The Night Before Easter: Make these cookies, and be sure to read the Bible passages!
- What you need:
- 1 cup whole pecans
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 3 egg whites
- pinch salt
- 1 cup sugar
- (zipper bag, wooden spoon, electric mixer, tape)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees (It is important to turn it on at the beginning, so it is completely preheated by the end.)
- Place pecans in zipper bag and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.
- Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.
- Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1tsp vinegar into mixing bowl.
- Explain: When Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
- Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life.
- Explain: Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
- Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
- Explain: This represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.
- So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup sugar.
- Explain: The sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
- Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.
- Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.
- Explain: Each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
- Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.
- Explain: Jesus’ tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.
- GO TO BED!
- Explain: We may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
- On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow!
- Explain: On the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.
- Sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today!
- Eat the cookies before church:)!
Plastic eggs have never had such valuable content! I didn’t realize Resurrection Eggs could be bought when I first heard of the concept, so I made them out of my own dollar store plastic eggs, a twisted paper clip crown, a rock from the yard, cotton ball with vinegar, etc.
Whether you hide these in the yard or house, or read through the passages as you each open an egg at the dinner table, the children stay in full attention, waiting to see what will be revealed inside of the next egg. Of course, the last egg is empty, signifying the empty tomb – and the sigh can be heard from every mouth as their hearts are pulled to thoughts of the Savior.
May you be blessed with a family week of celebrating the Resurrection of the Savior!
– Terri Brady