I remember one Easter growing up in Toledo, Ohio, waking up very early for the sunrise service. My father, already at the church preparing worship, had pre-tied my necktie and hung it on the banister. I slipped it on with my freshly pressed white shirt, donned my once-a-year suspenders and walked downstairs.
And then I cried. A fresh coat of snow had fallen overnight. I remember saying, “We can’t celebrate new life with snow on the ground!”
It’s my earliest Easter memory. One that has stuck with me as I’ve grown up and had my own children. For as true and real as those emotions were (and, sometimes, still are), they are rooted in a falsehood that continually needs to be dispelled by gospel truth: Resurrection happened, and happens, even in unlikely circumstances.
“What’s the next holiday?” my sons asked after this second year of pandemic Christmases. The festivals that dot our calendar have always been important, but recently that significance has been highlighted as bright spots illuminating an otherwise confusing reality in these years of strangeness. Calendars, both secular and sacred, aren’t just for knowing what day it is, but also for helping us know how to behave.
Calendars, both secular and sacred, aren’t just for knowing what day it is, but also for helping us know how to behave.
“Easter,” I replied with much enthusiasm. My son looked at me a bit disappointed. “But that’s only one day,” he said, downcast.
“It’s not,” I replied with confidence. “It’s actually 50 days!” But I understood his assumption. In the larger landscape, Christmas lasts for weeks: holiday music starts in early November and Christmas-themed movies air before the Halloween candy is consumed. Christmas itself is, at least liturgically and historically, 12 days long. To my son, Easter seems like only a day. But for something as unique and life-giving as resurrection, strides need to be taken to honor the totality of the season long past the secular celebrations of rabbits and eggs.
Easter is a season, not a day. And in this pandemic-lingering reality, we need that reminder more than ever.
- Take Easter walks. During the 50 days of Easter, go for regular walks, encouraging your children to point out signs of new life: budding blades of grass, singing birds, increased wildlife activity.
- Create Easter scenes. We’re all used to nativity scenes, but what if your family made a “resurrection display”? Using dolls, modeling clay or puppets, create a display of the empty tomb, the proclamation angel and the disciples inspecting the scene.
- Observe Easter symbols. Bunnies and eggs have long been used to describe spring, but they also provide resurrection imagery. Rabbits are prolific and are signs of exponential generations. Eggs are signs of hidden potential, like the empty tomb. Describe how these secular images hold sacred promises within them.