You see, a couple of years ago James and I decided to start a Christmas tradition around Advent. You can read about it here. Last year I dreamed about doing something similar with Easter, but couldn't figure out just how I wanted to do it. So, this year, I got myself moving early and came up with a plan. Sort of as a continuation of our Jesse Tree activities, we kept with the Jesus Storybook Bible written by Sally Lloyd-Jones. There are 16 stories from where we left off at Christmas (we ended with the birth of Jesus) until the resurrection of Jesus. So, I took 16 plastic eggs, glued them in a basket with some easter grass and put a little piece of each story in the eggs. On March 12th, we started reading 1 story each night at bedtime and opening the matching egg.... You guys, my 3 year old son knows every story mentioned in the Jesus Storybook Bible. He was so intrigued by this!! He has always loved reading with us, but his focus was pretty much amazing. If you know my Andy, you might understand why this sitting still time was a miracle in its self.
|All eggs, 1-16 prepped and ready to go!|
We don't do Easter baskets from the bunny at my house... we just don't really feel like it is necessary. Jesus is really all that we need, so we like to keep it simpler. ( I know... some people think that's just crazy and I could take the time to tell you why we don't do Santa either, but it's a whole different story... )
So, last night, before bed, we ready story #15... "The Sun Stops Shining." If you are familiar with The Jesus Storybook Bible, then you know this is the story of Jesus dying on the cross. After we read, we made resurrection cookies. It was a last minute addition to the evening, but lots of fun and super easy.
To be made the night before Easter Sunday
You will need:
You will need:
1cup whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
A pinch salt
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
A pinch salt
1. Preheat oven to 300
2. Place pecans in zipper bag and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3.
3. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
4. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
5. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.
6. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1c. sugar Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.
7. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah. 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
8. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.
9. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.
10. Time for bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
11. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.
Just like #10 says, Andy was a little sad that we ended the night without a cookie... That Jesus was sealed in the tomb. We explained that when he woke up in the morning that we would check on the cookies, open our last egg, and read our last story.
But this morning, after our resurrection cookie breakfast, we read.... and this is when IT happened. You see, my sweet husband has been reading a lot this week because I've had a cold that has zapped my voice and made my throat sore. He was reading the story titled "God's Wonderful Surprise" to our intently listening three year old son (who was not at all bothered that the 16th egg was empty) and our very wiggly one year old daughter (who was trying to destroy our Easter egg count down) and he got choked up. Yes, that amazing man that I married... the one that was crafted, hand picked, and divinely appointed to be the father of my children... he taught me something today, as he does so many times each day. He showed his heart for Jesus through his tears over a version of the Bible written for children. The crack in his voice surprised me. The tears in his eyes overwhelmed my spirit... in the best way. He showed me, without one word directed at me, that maybe, in all my "keeping it focused on Jesus" hoopla that I'd lost just a little bit of the significance of this moment. That maybe in my attempt to keep it simple and real, that I left my Jesus in the tomb. But folks, He is not there!! In so many words, I looked for him there this morning, but the angel spoke to me and asked, "What are you doing here? This is a tomb and tombs are for dead people." My Jesus wasn't there... He has overcome the grave and I shouldn't search for Him there anymore! Praise the Lord!
|All the eggs opened.|
So many times, with all my good intentions and good behavior, this is exactly what I do... I leave my Jesus in the tomb. Folks, I don't know about you, but life isn't worth fighting through if Jesus didn't get up and walk out of that grave. There's no victory in that. Our pastor said this morning, that EVERYTHING hinges on that truth. Now, I have to learn how to live like that everyday. I'm so incredibly thankful for the lesson today. The reminder not to leave Him behind. THIS Jesus is the one I want to live for. THIS Jesus is the one that claimed victory over death and made it so that I too can LIVE victoriously.