We are in the middle of week 3 of quarantine due to covid-19 and experiencing all kinds of things we never have before. Most of us are homeschooling our kids full-time, with little to no warning, and parents are having to work from home. Social distancing is in full swing- there are no playdates, date nights, church services, sports, activities, and dinner with friends. Even going to the grocery store can be anxiety producing and stressful.
And amidst it all, the most important celebration in the Christian faith is just a week and a half away. The celebration of our risen Savior, Jesus! We keep hearing about time to slow down and how our families have more time now that we are restricted to home. But, I'm well aware this may not actually be the reality for many families. While yes, our activities and outings are cancelled, depending on your specific scenario, you might find yourself totally strapped for time trying to manage kids home full-time, as well as working from home under a completely new system.
But given the circumstances our entire nation, and world, finds itself in, I would argue it's even more important to forcibly slow down our thoughts and prepare our hearts for Easter.
There are so many emotions these days as we seek a new normal, trying to find our way through what feels like an endless tunnel of "what if." We might feel fear, anxiety, hope, grief, awareness, and even joy and comfort at seeing the ways humanity is showing up in these uncertain times.
And still, it feels almost strange to seek a daily, quiet reprieve during this time leading up to Easter. In many ways, it feels oddly fitting that all of this is hitting at the same time as the celebration of Jesus' victory over death.
It will be so easy to throw Easter off this year-- we can't really shop, who bought Easter clothes before the quarantine, we can't get together as families, and we can't even get together with other Christians for the most prominent Sunday of the Christian calendar. We'll be tempted to just kind of throw it out the window, watch the church service on TV, and call it a Sunday. After all, we have every reason in the book to do so, right?
But, might I encourage you to step out, to prepare, and to CELEBRATE. Will it be different this year? Yes. Absolutely. Will it look and feel like it usually does? Probably not. Will we feel all kinds of emotions celebrating Easter without our traditions, missing family and church family? Yes, most definitely. But, now, more than ever, our world needs the story of the risen Jesus.
Obviously, our preparing and celebrating will look very different this year. And, that's okay. Once we make peace with that, it frees us up to make the best of these crazy circumstances we find ourselves in and find ways to make this Easter one our children really remember.
Does this mean adding mom guilt about ALL.THE.THINGS and depressing yourself with Pinterest searches for the best and most creative crafts and decorating ideas? No, it doesn't mean that at all. It means choosing a few things that you want to draw your family's attention to and putting in the time and effort to get it done. Will it be perfect? Not even close. Will it turn out exactly how you planned for in your head? Definitely not. But, if we aim for nothing, we hit nothing.
So, here are some of the ways our family is prepping for our Easter celebration. Maybe you'll find an idea or two here. Or, even ask your kids what their thoughts are on how to celebrate!
1. Easter Advent- for our family. this is a tradition that is really important to us. As we journey towards Easter we are called to remember. Jesus instructs at the Last Supper to “do this in remembrance of me.” He is actually telling us to experience His presence, not read about it, but to actively walk through an experience in order that we may remember. For us, walking through an experience to remember is our Easter advent. It is here, through Scripture, readings, and stories leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, where we call ourselves and our children to engage in the ache and the beauty as we are led down the road to Calvary.
In years past, we've kept our Advent to the week before Easter with the schedule and readings posted at the end of this post. This year is our first year doing 25 of the 40 days of Lent before Easter. We found at the ages of our kids, the full 40 days was a little too long to hold the meaning and intensity we were looking for. We use the cradle to the cross wreath, lighting a candle each night as we read and reflect.
2. Easter Baskets- while we don't do anything regarding the Easter Bunny, we do participate in this cultural activity and it's been a fun activity for the kids. We do try to place some kind of meaning into what goes inside their baskets. This year, we are honing in on "old to new" from "death to life," and each of our kids' baskets will have some kind of craft/project representing going from old to new, from death to life, from broken to restored. After all, this is what Easter really is about. This is a new tradition for us and one we didn't get to settle on before the quarantine. It took some creative planning- seeing what we already had in our house, what neighbors might have that we could use, etc.
Examples: Put a container of broken crayons and a silicone mold in their Easter basket. Melt the crayons to make new crayons in the molds. A collection of old, mismatched costume jewelry in the Easter basket with a blank canvas. Take apart all the jewelry and hot glue into a new creation on the blank canvas.
Tip: get on Amazon, or your favorite place to shop and your order any Easter basket essentials now. Otherwise, you won't get it in time. Shipping times (including prime) are not as fast as usual given all that is going on.
3. Decorate- If you normally put up spring/Easter decorations don't neglect doing so because everything feels different and you're gloomy and tired of being inside. Go ahead and decorate! If you don't normally decorate, you'd be surprised what you have around your house that you could turn into a spring decoration.
3. CELEBRATE- I heard a writer say it like this, "It seems like Easter should be a military celebration, a Roman Triumph, a victory parade. Torches burning, bands blaring, pigs roasting on a spit. The God-Man has destroyed our last enemy, death, and has utterly triumphed over every foe. I don’t know quite what this should look like, but I do like what Robert Louis Wilken wrote in First Things:
If Christ is culture, let the sidewalks be lit with fire on Easter Eve, let traffic stop for a column of Christians waving palm branches on a spring morning, let streets be blocked off as the faithful gather for a Corpus Christi procession. Then will others know that there is another city in their midst, another commonwealth, one that has its face, like the face of angels, turned toward the face of God.
Obviously, we know that gatherings, parades, and the like are not able to happen this year. But how can you improvise in true celebration? Sidewalk chalk your street? Buy balloons on Amazon, hang streamers, buy a confetti gun or a pinata? JESUS IS ALIVE!! Sometimes Christians get accused of being too somber, not showing pure joy. Well, now is the time to celebrate true victory over the grave!
I purchased these confetti wands for the kids on the Amazon this week and will stick them in their Easter baskets. The confetti is biodegradable so no need to clean up (if used outside, haha). They had a blast last year with confetti poppers, but these will be a lot easier for my little kids than the poppers that were hard to pull the string out of and that made loud noises.
4. Plan Y0ur Meal! Don't wait until a few days before! Start now. Normally, we can do this relatively last minute, but this year you're going to need to start trying to track down your special ingredients because they might not all be found in one trip anymore. Check online, ask neighbors, all within safe social distancing of course! And if you can't make your meal special in its food items, don't stress- it's the importance of coming around the table together, in joyful celebration that we serve a RISEN Savior.
How are you preparing and celebrating this year?!?!
Easter Advent Reading Plans
Here's an Easter Advent that our family has worked through during Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday) every year. Please feel free to use it or adapt for your family.
Each day has a reading from a story Bible, an Easter egg to open with a trinket that goes along with the story, and a picture ornament that also goes along with the story. Both the trinket and picture will be hung on the Easter tree, much like a Christmas advent Jesse Tree that hangs ornaments from the Bible stories leading up to the birth of Jesus. You can right click the Easter pics below and "save image as" and then print. We hole punched the top and made ornaments. Our Easter tree is simply branches from outside stuck in a heavy vase.
The following items are used in the Easter Holy Week Advent that I've prepared, but they can easily be read using other sources by matching up the Biblical stories. We use multiple resources because some story Bibles don't include all the events of Holy Week, or one might explain an event better than another. You can always read the events straight from the Bible as well.
Resurrection Eggs- We adapted these to fit the Holy Week readings we chose. Use however you'd like.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
The Gospel Story Bible
The Ology by Marty Machoswki
The initial plan below is geared more towards the young child. The adaptations we use with our older kids is also listed.
Day 1- The Triumphant Entry
Day 2- Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Day 3- Jesus Washes the Apostles Feet
Day 4- The Last Supper
Day 5- The Garden of Gethsemane
Day 6- The Crucifixion of Jesus
Day 7- The Burial of Jesus and Darkness Covers the Land
Day 8- The Resurrection