From Kay Meyer's column in the St. Louis Metro Voice newspaper from 1994 to 2013.
The stores are full of brightly colored Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow eggs, and beautiful clothes! Lenten services are being held at area congregations. Easter is near. How can we use traditional Easter activities to share our faith with those in our families? Although most Christians understand that Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, the secular world promotes it as just another holiday. Yet, the Bible tells us to take every opportunity to share tell others about our Savior. The following are suggestions for using Easter activities to share Christ.
Devotional Resurrection Eggs
Twelve large plastic eggs can be used as a teaching tool for children and adults of all ages. Inside each colored egg will be a small item that reminds us of the passion story. It will also hold a Bible verse. Parents may want to prepare by reading the Easter story. Note items that you might use. Put an empty communion cup or small piece of unleavened bread inside one egg. These remind us of the Passover meal (Luke 22:17-19). In another egg put a small sponge and the Bible verse about how they gave Jesus a sponge filled with vinegar when He was thirsty. In another egg put a piece of wood. As you open this egg talk about how Jesus was nailed to the cross. The nail reminds us how Jesus suffered for our sins. In another egg you might put a toothpick that represents the spear that went into Jesus side after his death. An eraser inside an egg can help children understand that with faith in Christ their sins are forgiven and washed away (or erased). Judas betrayed Jesus with thirty pieces of silver. Another egg could have a coin inside. What about the number twelve? Ask them how the twelve eggs remind them of the story of Jesus birth, suffering, and death. Hopefully, they will remember that Jesus selected twelve disciples or apostles. A small chain can be used to explain how we are in bondage to sin before Jesus breaks the chains by his life, death, and resurrection. A piece of linen can remind us that they stripped Jesus and beat him. A thorn can remind us of the beating he took for our sins. The final egg that you open should be empty. The disciples found an empty tomb! Once you’ve decided on what to put inside the eggs and the appropriate Bible verse, arrange the eggs in the order of the Gospel story. Then open one egg each day for twelve days before Easter.
Die Eggs with Natural Items
When my children were young, one year we died Easter eggs using a variety of natural products. Eggs boiled in onion skins turn yellow/orange. Eggs boiled with blueberries make a beautiful color. Beets also make a great color. After boiling the eggs, you can fix the beets as a vegetable. Spinach leaves are another option. Experiment with various vegetables and fruits. Use these times to talk about the wonderful world God created and how nature can be used to show us a rainbow of colors.
Hunt for the Easter Basket
Do you put out Easter baskets for the children to find on Easter morning? Why not adapt this tradition and allow the children to hunt for baskets on Easter morning? After they have ample time to find their basket and look at what’s inside, invite them to sit with you as you read a portion of the Easter story together. You might purchase a book about the Easter story that is age appropriate or read it from their Bible. One of my favorite stories after hunting for the basket was to read the story of the women running to tell the disciples that Jesus was not there and the story of the two disciples that ran to the tomb looking for Jesus. Jesus was no longer in the tomb. He had risen from the grave!
Act Out the Easter Story
Another good activity is to act out the Easter story. You can do this with your children or involve the extended family at your gathering. Stories from the Bible can come alive as children and adults act them out and discuss them together.
Easter Egg Hunts
Many congregations organize an Easter Egg Hunt and invite their community. Use this opportunity to extend an invitation to those who come to join you for services. Make sure they receive something in print about the times of services.
Before you send the children to hunt for the eggs, share the Easter story. Make it a mini- children’s sermon. Explain that after the resurrection the disciples hunted for Jesus. But, he was no longer in the grave. He had risen from the dead! Tell them that when we have faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven. When we die we will go to heaven to be with Jesus.
Making Easter cookies can become a family tradition. You need: one cup of whole pecans, one tsp. of vinegar, three egg whites, a pinch of salt, one cup of sugar, a zipper baggie, a wooden spoon, tape, and a Bible. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place pecans in a zipper baggie and allow each member of the family to beat them with the wooden spoon. Soon they will break into small pieces. Remind them that when Jesus was arrested, he was beaten by the soldiers. Make sure you tell them that he was beaten for their sins and your sins!
Let each child smell the vinegar. Put it into the mixing bowl. Tell them the story of when Jesus was on the cross and was thirsty he was given vinegar to drink from a sponge. Read John 19:28-30 together.
Add egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us forgiveness and life everlasting. Read John 10:10-11 together.
Sprinkle a little salt into each person’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this can represent the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27 together.
Now add one cup of sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the Easter story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to know and love Him. Read John 3:16.
Beat with a mixer on high for 13 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents purity. Our sins are washed away and we are clean because of Jesus death and resurrection. Read John 3:1-3.
Fold in the broken nuts. Drop the dough onto wax paper on a cookie sheet. Explain that each cookie represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid after his death. Read Matt. 27:57-60.
Put the cookie sheet into the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give everyone a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. Read Matt. 27:65-66.
GO TO BED! Explain that we might be sad to leave the cookies in the oven. The disciples were sad when they put Jesus into the tomb. Read John 16:20 and 22.
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 found the tomb open and empty! Read Matt. 28:19 together.
Extended families gather together for food and fellowship on Easter. If your family is like ours, some of your relatives are not Christians or have fallen away from the church. Use these opportunities to be light and salt to your loved ones. Talk about the sermon your pastor preached that morning. Talk about the resurrection and Christ.
Jesus said to him (Thomas), “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed” (John 20:29).
by Kay L. Meyer