In Part 1, we talked about reasons why the Easter holiday should have as least as much if not more celebration than Christmas due to the eternal importance of what it represents. If you would like to check it out, you can read it here.
I do want to make one thing clear. I am not saying that we are doing too much to celebrate Christmas each year. Christmas is a wonderful holiday and the birth of Jesus is something that should be celebrated each year on a grand scale. What I am saying is that maybe we need to step it up and do a little more to celebrate Good Friday and Easter. We should try to put as much thought and energy into this holiday that we do Christmas.
So what should we do to do a better job of celebrating Easter?
Here are 10 ideas I came up with of things you can do to place a greater importance on Easter. They are in no particular order.
Read the Story
Get into your Bibles and read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. The story is told in each of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). If you have read these stories several times before, try reading them in a different Bible translation so you can get a little different feel for it. You may find some new insights that you had not noticed before. Another idea would be to read an Easter devotional. There are several of them out there that have 40 daily reading leading up to the day of Easter. The past couple of years, I have read a couple of the different devotionals written by Adam Hamilton. This year I have been reading Journey to the Cross: Reflecting on 24 Hours That Changed the World. It is a remarkable read and I would recommend it to all of you. You could also get any Christian-themed book on Easter and read it in the weeks leading up to Easter. Immersing yourself in the story is a great way to keep Jesus’ sacrifice in the front of your mind as you approach and go through the Easter season.
If you are not much of a reader and prefer to see things more visually, you can watch one of the great movie choices out there that depicts the crucifixion of Jesus. There are several that I recommend. Visual Bible: The Book of Matthew, Jesus of Nazareth, The Greatest Story Ever Told. The past 4 years I have watched The Passion of the Christ on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. It is so powerful it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. It really highlights the brutality of His murder. Several weeks ago, Stephanie and I went and watched The Son of God and it was just a great movie. I would highly recommend seeing it as soon as you can. Invite family or friends over to your house and you can watch one of these movies together. It can be a very powerful experience.
Consider a Seder
If you are not familiar with what a Seder is, I will give you a much abbreviated version. The nation of Israel was enslaved in Egypt by Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God sent Moses, who was an Israelite, but raised as an Egyptian, to free the Israelites out of slavery. God sent a series of plagues down on the land of Egypt to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites, but Pharaoh kept refusing. Finally God sent an angel of death who would go from door to door throughout Egypt and kill the first-born son of each home. This was intended only for the Egyptians so God informed the Israelites that each family should slaughter a lamb and brush the blood from that sacrificed lamb on the door of their home. The angel of death would see the blood and Passover that home and spare that son. Through this act, the Israelites were set free from slavery. The Israelites continued to celebrate this event each year in the form of a celebration called Passover. The main feast at this celebration was called the Seder and has continued to be celebrated by many Jewish families and Christians who are not Jews. It is a way of remembering the goodness of God of His people.
You could try to host your own Seder feast and invite friends and family over to celebrate this. It is a great way to learn more about the ancient traditions of Passover by celebrating this communal meal and celebration with other Messianic Christians. This meal is traditionally served on the Thursday, the night before Good Friday. If you have no idea how to host a Seder or what food to serve, I would recommend check out this great resource I found on hosting your own Seder here.
Pay It Forward
Consider helping someone else out so they can celebrate Easter in a way that might not be possible for them. You could plan a grand Easter feast and go shopping for all the ingredients. Instead of making the meal for yourself, you could take the ingredients to a local food pantry. You could also make the Easter feast yourself and invite over some friends who might not be able to afford having a big meal. Everyone loves a good meal and it is a great way to show the heart of Jesus in the process.
Go buy a bouquet of flowers or an Easter lily and give it to a friend. When they ask what it is for you could say that it is to commemorate the new life we have in Christ. You could also buy an Easter lily for the Easter service at the church you attend in remembrance of a family member or loved one who has passed away. Flowers are a great symbol of new life.
Note the Occasion
Did you get your Christmas cards sent out last December? If not, no need to worry. You can surprise people you care about with a handwritten Easter greeting card instead. If you really want to get in the mood, you could send out Easter cards with a picture of you and your family. You could even take your picture with a bunny.
Fast for the Holiday
You could consider a fast for the Easter holiday. The idea of fasting is that you take away something and that creates a focus on the events that happened to Jesus and makes you have a greater understanding and “feel” of what Jesus went through and what He did. For the past several years I have fasted from food over the Easter holiday. I have my last meal on Thursday night before Good Friday and I do not eat any food until Sunday at lunch. I have had some amazing experiences through this experience. I have found that I feel closer to God during this time and it is something I plan to continue to do the rest of my life. If you would like to read more about my experiences with fasting, you can check out this blog I wrote about the experience here.
You can set up your fast however you want. You can choose to take away food or something else. If you choose to fast from food, you can do as little as one meal all the way to fasting for the entire 40 days leading up to Easter.
Please know that fasting for such a long period of time could affect your health so be very careful. If you do decide to fast, here are some tips to help you:
- Spend the time you would have been eating in prayer or quiet time with God. This can also be a good time to read your Bible.
- When you’re hungry, let it remind you of your dependence on God. He wants to teach you something about Him and you.
- If you have medical conditions, obviously, be smart.
- Drink lots of water.
- Don’t be afraid, but be expectant. God will always fill the space that you give Him.
Go to Church
One of the best ways that I have found to feel close to God is to go to church. Usually the three grandest church services you can attend are the Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter services. Take advantage of the opportunity you have to go to church over the Easter holiday. I found that the Good Friday service is so very powerful. It can be a little sad when you are exposed to the weight of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, but getting exposed to it really makes you appreciate what Jesus did. Then go back on Sunday morning for one of the most uplifting experiences you will ever experience in church. I would recommend an Easter sunrise service because I think it is even a more moving experience as the sun is coming up. It will give you a visual representation of Christ rising again. This year, Stephanie and I will be attending the sunrise service for our church in the park. The service starts at 6:30 am so we better set our alarms. I think it is crucial to go to both services so you can experience the two extremes of the Good Friday and Sunday services. You really need both to experience the full story. Just going to one would give an incomplete story.
Participate in Lent
The Lent season starts with Ash Wednesday and leads right up to Easter. I know that it is very well-known that many people give up something during the lent season. Some people give up meat. Others give up sweets. Some give up pop consumption. Those things are all fine, but ask yourself how you are really benefiting anyone else by giving up those things? I would recommend adding something for lent season. Think of other forms of Christ-inspired sacrifice. How about devoting one night a week to donate you time to a local shelter or some youth organization? You could join a new Bible study that would add to your knowledge of God. You could find a new way to serve in your church or your community. Don’t make your sacrifice be so self-centered.
If you are a person who is more artistic, consider using your talents to express your love for God. You could paint or draw a picture of Jesus on the cross. You could write a song. You could write a poem relating to Christ and his sacrifice for us. You could write a letter to God thanking Him for the sacrifice He made on your behalf. You could even write a blog talking about Easter. I know that I like to do that from time to time. Lol.
Easter is a great holiday. Get inventive this season and find some ways you can do a better job of celebrating it. One nice thing about it is that you don’t have to wait in line at the malls at Easter. I hope you all enjoy this season.