Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Easter Angst: The Bunny v The Cross

Another religious holiday taken over by consumerism faces us this month. As a believer, a Catholic and a parent, I am torn between the significance of the day and my children's delight in the expectation of the bunny. Do I forgo the bunny all together or try to balance the bunny fun with the gift of Easter?

Growing up I remember shopping for our Easter finest, dressing up, attending Mass and having a big family dinner. But I also remember dying eggs with my brothers, getting up on Easter morning and searching the house for the eggs that made a trail to our hidden baskets, and devouring lots of Easter chocolate. When I was young, I'm not sure I understood the significance of Christ dying on the cross for my sins, but somewhere along the way the Easter bunny took a back seat to Christ. Maybe it will be that way for my kids. But can they enjoy the bunny and still honor Christ?

I don't really want to keep them from the egg hunts, egg dying and Easter morning excitement. I just want them to understand that we celebrate because Christ has risen and we are free! So do I blend baskets, bunnies and eggs with the cross and empty tomb? 

Focus on the Family tell us that: Bunnies, eggs, baskets and more can become tools that parents use to bring a greater understanding of the message of Easter. Some ideas they offer here include telling the story of Easter with eggs, use characteristics of the Easter bunny to show how they are similar to characteristics of Jesus and define the terms told in the biblical Easter story so they can understand the story that is being told.

Other ideas for putting the focus on faith over fur this Easter, include:
  • Make a resurrection garden
  • Put faith-related items in the Easter basket such as a new devotional, cross jewelry, a Christian fiction novel, a puppet skit book that tells stories from the people who met Jesus, faith-based toys from Wee Believers and chocolate in the shape of a cross
  • Count down the 12 days til Easter by telling the Easter story through Resurrection Eggs
  • Celebrate the Passover meal and discuss the relationship between the last supper and Passover 
A book I recommend is The Sparkle Egg by Jill Hardie and beautifully illustrated by Christine Kornacki. The story is about a boy named Sam who is very excited about Easter coming. His excitement is dampened by the guilt he feels over a lie he tells his mom. Even though Sam's mom and dad forgave him, and he prayed for God's forgiveness, Sam still feels shame for the fib he told. Sam's mom helps him make a special craft called a Sparkle Egg and tells him to write down anything he feels bad about, or ashamed of, on a piece paper and put it inside the egg.

On Easter morning, Sam is excited about his Easter basket and even more excited about his Sparkle Egg. When he opens the egg, it is empty- just like the tomb. His parents explain that because Jesus died and rose again, we are forgiven. Once Sam accepts that he is truly forgiven and receives God's grace, he can shine and shimmer just like the Sparkle Egg. This relatable tale provides a tangible reminder of God's goodness and forgiveness.

I would love to hear how you observe Lent and Easter. Do you include the bunny? If you are a Christian, how do you keep Christ the center? 

Disclosure of material connection: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free in the hope that I would give it my fair review. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."