Spring weather is finally peaking its head out and with that, comes preparing for the celebration of Easter. Christmas is the birth of Jesus, when God sent the Redeemer to mankind. But, Easter is the pinnacle of the Christian faith when Jesus died and rose again! Why then does it seem like we do so much at Christmas, but seem to drop the ball at Easter? After all, if the baby King born in a manger didn’t die, and rise again, what kind of god are we following?<
Easter should be the highlight, the pinnacle of the Christian church, and sadly often times, it is not. In theory and in discussion, yes. But in practice? Usually not. Christmas, the birth of Jesus, outshines Easter by far, but, what is Christmas without Easter? Many times Christians associate Easter with dressy, uncomfortable outfits, an array of the pastel colors purple, pink, yellow, blue, and green, the “secular” celebrations of baskets and easter bunnies, all culminating with an extra special visit to church on Easter Sunday where the pastor tries to make the “same old story” about Jesus’ death and resurrection somehow new and exciting. That is what used to come to mind when I thought of the Christian church and Easter. But, over the last many years, we’ve watched our family celebrations change and watched many Christians and churches begin to celebrate, to really celebrate, and it has been fantastic to see. Jesus is nothing close to being a “same old story.”
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.
If we want our children to see, know, and understand Easter for what it is… a glorious, triumphant celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, then we must change how we approach it. It’s not just a fancy Sunday that happens once a year, with an after church Easter egg hunt with the grandparents. If we want to present our children with a God they long to follow, a God that captivates their hearts and minds, a God that they see and know as being as awe-inspiring as He truly is, then we can’t just give them culture’s idea of Easter.
So what does this mean? What does this even look like? Well, that’s up to you! It doesn’t mean you have to go all out, create all kinds of crafts, and activities. The way you cultivate an Easter celebration in your family will not look exactly like someone else’s. Maybe it’s intentionally reading through the events of Easter with your kids during Holy Week, while another family sets up an Easter tree, does resurrection eggs, and crafts. Maybe you spend Maundy Thursday doing a family service project in your community while sharing the good news that Jesus is alive and active! Maybe it’s taking a quiet, reflective hike with your family on Good Friday, talking and discussing with your kids what it would be like if Jesus never came and rose again?
Here’s an Easter Advent that our family works 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
- Any Bible
- The Ology by Marty MachoswkiThe 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 (Sunday, April 14th)
- Read The Gospel Story Bible pg. 216-217
- Older students- read Matthew 21:1-11
- Egg- dark blue- little donkey hang on Easter tree
- Picture of triumphant entry- hang on Easter tree
Day 2- Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Monday, April 15th)
- Read The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 288-305
- Older students- read Matthew 21:12-17
- Egg- light pink- coins, hang coin picture on Easter tree
- Picture of Jesus cleansing the temple- hang on Easter tree
Day 3- Jesus Washes the Apostles Feet (Tuesday, April 16th)
- Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 286-288 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 220-221)
- Older students read- John 13:1-17
- Egg- green- cloth, hang on Easter tree
- Picture of Jesus washing the apostles feet- hang on Easter tree
Day 4- The Last Supper (Wednesday, April 17th)
- Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 290-292 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 222-225)
- Older students read- Matthew 26:17-29,
- Egg- light purple- wine cup, hang on Easter tree
- Picture of the Last Supper- hang on Easter tree
Day 5- The Garden of Gethsemane (Thursday, April 18th)
- Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 294-301 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 226-229, or The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 359-363))
- Older students read- Matthew 26:36-46 and The Ology pg. 116
- Egg- orange- praying hands, hang on Easter tree
- Picture of the Garden of Gethsemane- hang on Easter tree
Day 6- The Crucifixion of Jesus (Friday, April 19th)
- Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 302-306 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 230-233, or The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 364-373)
- Older students read- Matthew 27:11-56 and The Ology pg. 119
- Egg- yellow- cross, hang on Easter tree
- Picture of the crucifixion- hang on Easter tree
Day 7- The Burial of Jesus and Darkness Covers the Land (Saturday, April 20th)
- Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 308 and The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 376-380
- Older students read- Matthew 27:57-66
- Egg- pink- stone, hang picture of a stone on Easter tree
- Picture of the burial of Jesus- hang on Easter tree
Day 8- The Resurrection (Sunday, April 21st)
- Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 310-317 or shorter The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 385-395 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 235-237)
- Older students read- Matthew 28 and The Ology pg. 120-123
- Egg- white- empty! Nothing to hang on the Easter tree (or you can make a smiley face ornament to hang for Joy that Jesus has risen)
- Picture of the risen Jesus- hang on Easter tree
- Easter Night story time- Read The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 398-411. Great overview of why Jesus came, why He had to die, and the Promises of Scripture.
- Older students read- The Ology pg.124
However you choose to celebrate, find what works for your family and celebrates King Jesus! The focus is not on having the best Pinterest inspired Easter activities or becoming so stressed over the advent prep that it takes away from the purpose all together. If you have a house full of littles and doing the resurrection eggs, the Easter tree, and the readings is too much right now? Don’t feel badly. Do what you can, where you can, and enjoy giving your kids a celebratory glimpse of our risen Jesus!