Easter is just around the corner. Are you ready for it? Read on to find 7 Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Easter!
For the past couple of weeks, the children of our church have been stuffing Easter eggs full of candy and prizes for our annual community-wide Easter egg hunt. My daughter and some other girls have been practicing a song in sign language for Palm Sunday. Cute, spring decorations abound all over town and at the homes of so many of my friends.
Everything around us is getting ready for Easter.
From the daffodils and azaleas blooming in our yard to the blue sky I see today, the world seems ready for spring, and after the cold winter we’ve had, I’m right there with it.
Every day or so, I walk to the garden and look for signs of life. I can’t wait to show my kids the first sprouts that push through the soil and reach up for warmth and light and life.
And I think about Easter.
Not about candy or baskets or bunnies, but about a day long ago when a small group of women were a lot like the seeds we planted. They were cold and covered in darkness. They weren’t looking for light or life, but early one morning, they were drawn to only place they would find it.
The very place they had buried the dreams dearest to them was the place they found all their hope.
It was empty.
The one they’d laid to rest was gone, and with him went their grief.
That’s what Easter is all about.
Unfortunately, with all the fun traditions we’ve added to it over the years, we often wake up on Easter, head to church and realize we aren’t ready for it. Oh, our kids have candy, and lunch is waiting for our families to gather.
Our hearts are another matter.
I’ve been there. Often, by the time I’ve ironed Easter dresses, brushed hair and served breakfast, I’m just ready to get to church and get it over with. (Did I just type that out loud? Oh well, this blog is meaningless if I’m not honest with you.)
This Easter, I don’t want the meaning to get lost in the madness.
7 Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Easter
What about you? How do you make sure your heart and your family are ready to celebrate the Savior?
I’m still learning, but I have a few suggestions I’d like to share with you today.
Prepare with the Passover
Just last week, I enjoyed spending time with some college students while we learned about the meaning of the Passover meal. We discussed the different elements and then read about the Last Supper. Reading Jesus’ words to his disciples is a wonderful reminder of the sacrifice he made, but understanding the meal they were sharing makes it that much more meaningful.
One of the resources our family uses to learn more about the Passover is Celebrating Biblical Feasts: In Your Home or Church by Martha Zimmerman. Zimmerman takes great care to describe the elements of each Jewish feast while pointing out how each one proclaims Christ. The Passover is certainly no exception.
I highly recommend this book. My family has enjoyed learning about and celebrating various feasts throughout the year, and I have come to a much deeper understanding of the Old Testament while doing so.
Attend a Maundy Thursday Meal
I grew up in a Baptist Church so I honestly had never even heard of Maundy Thursday until recent years. I was able to attend a service with a friend of mine, and just like observing the Passover in our home, the Maundy Thursday meal was so enlightening.
If you’re like me and have never heard of it, Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Good Friday. Churches observe the Passover as Jesus did the night before he died. Using Celebrating Biblical Feasts: In Your Home or Church you can have a Maundy Thursday meal in your home or plan one for your church.
There’s no getting around the fact that kids LOVE Easter eggs so I suggest you make them meaningful! A sorority sister of mine introduced me to Resurrection Eggs when I was in college, and I’ve found them helpful through the years when trying to keep kids focused on Christ. Each egg contains an item that pertains to part of the Easter story. They’re a great way to tell the story and keep kids interested. I suggest you start on Palm Sunday and open a couple of eggs each day, learning about the items as you go.
Add Faith to Your Food
My grandmother was Lebanese, and when Easter rolls around, I can’t help but think of kibbie and the fact she always put a cross in it. If you’re unfamiliar with kibbie, it is a mixture of ground meat and cracked wheat, often stuffed with onions, pine nuts and more meat, flavored with salt, pepper and cinnamon. It smells like heaven and tastes pretty good, too.
The process of preparing kibbie is rather involved. First, you wash the wheat, rinsing and rinsing until the water runs clear. Then you mix the meat and wheat and bless it. I can remember my grandmother gathering us around the kibbie bowl and praying over it. She grew up Greek Orthodox and would put a cross in the kibbie as she said, “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Another of her recipes that I always associate with Easter is Mamoul, which is a cookie made of cream of wheat and stuffed with chopped nuts. Covered in powdered sugar, mamoul is simple and sweet, and my grandmother always pressed a cross in it with a fork.
Perhaps you could add a special recipe to your Easter menu, one that reminds you of the reason we celebrate that Sunday. I’ve seen recipes for Resurrection Rolls, which help kids remember the empty tomb. Lamb is another item that always reminds us of the sacrifice Christ made.
Read the Word
One of the most important ways to focus on Christ this Easter is to spend time in his word, remembering what Easter is all about. Here are a few suggestions for Easter Week reading:
- Exodus 12 – The first Passover
- Leviticus 1-7 – Description of the Offerings Required by the Law
- Leviticus 16 – The Day of Atonement
- Leviticus 23-24 – The Appointed Festivals
- Matthew 26-28 – Jesus’ Final Days
- Mark 14-16 – Jesus’ Final Days
- Luke 1:67-79 – Zechariah’s Prophetic Song about Christ
- Luke 22-24 – Jesus’ Final Days
- John 12-20 – Jesus’ Final Days
- Hebrews 1-10 – All about Jesus as the Great High Priest and the Sacrifice for Our Sins
- Revelation 5 – The Lamb
The Lord’s Supper
I know this can be included with the Passover, but I encourage you to partake of the Lord’s Supper during Easter week. Perhaps your church has a special service or maybe you can do it in your home. One thing that I think makes it even more special is actually having bread to tear because that’s what Jesus did to illustrate that his body would be broken for us. Share the meal as a family and explain that to your kids.
“In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:25-26)
It’s the perfect way for your family to reflect on the death and resurrection of Christ during Easter week.
Meaningful Movie Night
There are a number of movies that your family can watch to remember what happened in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Here are just a few you might watch this Easter week:
While I don’t think my young children are quite ready for this film, The Passion of the Christ is one film that always makes me truly reflect on the suffering of my Savior.
The Bible miniseries covers most of the Bible. You can watch parts about the Passover and the Exodus and the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
The Robe is a classic movie that reminds me of my grandmother. I can remember watching it with her when visiting for Easter. It’s fiction but does tell a powerful story of redemption.
The Jesus Film has been used by missionaries all over the world to tell the story of Jesus to millions of people in their own languages.
My kids love Veggie Tales, and the franchise has a few offerings for Easter.
Whichever way you choose to celebrate this Easter, I pray it will be a time of renewal and hope for you and your family. For more Easter inspiration, don’t miss these posts:
- Easter is not about the Bunny. It’s all about the Lamb.
- Encouraging Word Wednesday: Why You Need the Great High Priest
- What My Miscarriage Taught Me About God’s Grace
- Encouraging Word Wednesday: The Good Shepherd
I’d love to hear from you about how you keep your Easter focus on Christ. Leave a comment and let me know!
Also, be sure to leave a link or two for Encouraging Word Wednesday this week!