If you walk through any store this time of year, you'll find a myriad of Easter displays. And in my experience, 9 out of 10 of the items there are secular in nature for the holiday. Whether it is an Easter bunny, Easter egg, Easter basket or some kind of Easter-themed candy, Easter in its secular form is everywhere!
What is a parent to do about it? You can't simply avoid shopping this time of the year. Families still need the essentials. As director of Children’s Ministry at Riviera Baptist Church, I have a few ideas that I believe parents, grandparents and anyone who happens to be taking kids to the store in the next few weeks can benefit from!
The key to keeping Jesus at the forefront of the holiday season is intentionality. It is important to have a plan for what you are going to discuss with your kids before you are in a place where the conversation may occur.
Intentionality starts with research. It is important that you know exactly what, how, and why people are celebrating. The Internet can be a great source of information on the history of the Easter holiday as it has come to be celebrated here in the United States. Keep in mind: It is important to make sure you use only reputable sources on the Internet - but that will be the topic of a later blog.
Here is a short video that can be a good starting point:
While knowing how we arrived at our current celebratory traditions is good, it is most important to know the exact story of what the very first “Easter."
As we know, in Christianity, the celebration of Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Matthew 21 tells the story of Christ coming into Jerusalem during the final week of His life. The story continues with details of the Last Days in chapters 26 through 28, when the women find the tomb empty. The story is also told in the other three gospels of Mark, Luke and John.
In my family, it was tradition for us to read the story of the first Easter from one of the Gospels on Easter Sunday. However, given that the idea I am recommending is intentionality, reading and understanding the story before the holiday is best - so that when you do make that first trip into Walmart and your kids are surrounded by bunnies and eggs and candy and other secular celebratory items, you are ready to answer the tough questions.
I am by no means suggesting that we shouldn't celebrate Easter in the manner that is popular for our time. I have many fond memories of waking up Easter morning and finding my basket full of candy, gifts and a brand new toothbrush. Rather, I am suggesting that you do not forget to have that important conversation about why Easter is celebrated. This can be done by making church and church-related Easter celebrations a priority for your family, and emphasizing those traditions before the candy and the treats.
Most churches will have a special service on Easter Sunday for families to participate in. Many other churches also have a special Palm Sunday service the week before as well. There are even some churches that will celebrate Good Friday as well - including Riviera Baptist Church. Each of these services can be great ways for a family to spend the week focusing on the true foundation of the holiday - and not get lost in all the secular celebrations they will interact with throughout the week.
Children's Ministries Director
Riviera Baptist Church