It is Easter week. It is a given that you will be faced with busy-ness like never before. I personally believe that Satan will do anything he can to try to keep us distracted from the reason of this week. That is why it is so important for us to be deliberate in our "Countdown To Easter". Whether you choose one, two, or ten things on this list, keeping Christ the "reason for the season" is more than just for Christmas it is the reason for our lives!
Buy an Easter lily for your home. The lily symbolizes new life because something so strikingly fragrant and beautiful grows from a lifeless-looking bulb.
Paint a spring mural. Put up a wall-sized piece of paper, tape newspaper to the floor, dress your child in old clothes and get out the paints! Even if it's not greening up outside, you can start springtime indoors.
Take a "new life walk" outdoors, searching out tiny shoots, sprouting buds on trees and eggs in birds' nests.
The season of Lent alternates times of remembering Christ's suffering with celebrating the Resurrection (every Sunday during the season). Adopt a European tradition and collect bells you have around the house (jingle bells from Christmas?) to ring on the Sundays of Lent.
Explain the word redemption, using the dictionary definition as well as the Christian doctrine (hints: "recovering ownership" and "restoring value=").
Sing together the hymn "O Sacred Head":
"O Sacred Head once wounded,
with grief and pain weighed down,
how scornfully surrounded
with thorns Thine only crown!
How pale Thou are with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish,
which once was bright as morn."
Bring springtime indoors. Buy potted crocuses, daffodils or tulips for your home.
Help your child understand why Jesus was called "the Lamb of God" (his role as the unblemished sacrifice: Ex. 12:21-24; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7-8). With your child, make a lamb. Glue cotton balls to a small paper plate, then add pink and black construction-paper eyes, ears, muzzle, nose and hooves.
Read or summarize Exodus 12:1-42 to give an older child a context for the Passover celebration that Jesus observed the last week before his death. Explain Christ's death as the ultimate sacrifice for sin and discuss the significance of God giving up his firstborn Son.
Fill a clay pot with soil and grass seeds. Your kids will be able to watch the swift growth of the grass shoots.
Look up 2 Corinthians 5:17. As a symbol of a "new creation," make butterflies using a large piece of wrapping tissue scrunched and secured in the middle with a clothespin.
Make homemade pretzels, which originated as a Lenten treat.
Define resurrection for your kids. Have an older child undertake a "Bible hunt" to identify people who died and were raised to life. In every case, Who did the resurrecting?
Sing or recite together a few lines from "How Great Thou Art":
"And when I think:
that God his Son not sparing,
sent him to die—I scarce can take it in;
that on the cross,
my burden gladly bearing,
he bled and died, to take away my sin!"
Buy inexpensive packets of summer flowers, place each packet in a separate envelope, then decorate the envelopes with pictures of the full-grown flowers. School-age children can write the flower name on the envelope. Offer these as Easter gifts for friends or neighbors who enjoy gardening.
Make this a gift-giving season. The gift of Immanuel, which we celebrate at Christmas, finds its ultimate expression in Christ's sacrifice. Homemade gifts, such as cookies or cross-shaped paper bookmarks, are best.
The old word lenten means "springtime"—a season of new life. Visit a farm or petting zoo and look for newborns: piglets, bunnies, lambs or chicks.
Read Matthew 26:1-16, 47-56. Talk about your child's experiences of betrayal or disappointment in friendships. Imagine Jesus' personal hurt at Judas's treachery and the subsequent desertion of Christ's closest allies.
Define atonement, helping your kids understand the ideas of making amends or repaying a debt that is owed.
Recite together these lines from "Man of Sorrows":
"Man of sorrows!
What a name for the Son of God,
who came ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah—what a Savior!"
Read Isaiah 53:2-8. Depending on the maturity and readiness of your child, describe Jesus' sufferings on the cross.
Explain the word alleluia, which comes from a Greek translation of a Hebrew phrase meaning "Praise the Lord"—a call to worship.
In Greece, Christians celebrate Easter with a festive outdoor banquet. On the first warm-enough day, eat lunch together outdoors.
Create egg-shaped art. Cut an egg shape out of cardboard. Use it to trace onto drawing paper. Then turn your ovals into crayon pictures of rolypoly rabbits or chicks.
Explain repentance in terms of understanding God's holiness and seeing yourself through his eyes. Emphasize God's loving desire to redeem sinners.
The idea of new clothes for Easter comes from the Easter Sunday tradition of some churches to bring in new members or to baptize new believers dressed in white. Just for fun, make an Easter bonnet by decorating a paper plate with silk or paper flowers. Two slits on opposite sides of the plate allow a ribbon to pass through so you can tie it underneath your child's chin.