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"Energizing Our Easter Baskets from the Bible"
by Barbara Smith

Can we talk? It's tightrope time again around my house. The egg-laying rabbits are making appearances in the grocery stores, along with the "available only at Easter chocolate cream eggs," mountains of jelly beans, garish pastel baskets and ubiquitous plastic grass. Hold on, now! I am not an off-season Scrooge. I'm not against jelly beans or chocolate bunnies; nor am I opposed to brightly colored eggs nestled in green plastic grass.

Can we just take some time and think through what and how we can do to commemorate April 5, lest jelly beans and bunnies, decorated eggs and chicks divert even believers from exulting in the Resurrection message? (See 1 John 2:15) What can we plan for our families, or put into gaily trimmed Easter baskets and family observances that strengthen faith and build our spiritual muscles?

Reconciling the world's celebration of Easter with the most solemn and glorious observance on the Christian church's calendar is a harder stretch than navigating the couple weeks of insanity before December 25. The secular Christmas symbols are truer faith builders than many Easter customs. Christ's name is in the center; the worldly hoopla over creches is at least an authentic reminder that God entered history as a human baby; and the modern figure of Santa Claus evolved from a real man who loved Jesus. "Easter" is the name of the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre, and is the first of many veils the world drops to shroud the greatest of Christian feasts.

The world pauses to enjoy the Easter weekend. However, its festivities avoid mentioning the bloody and brutal death and burial of Christ, and skip over the meaning as deftly as its skips over the meaning of the Incarnation. (See John 3:16) Unlike many Christmas decorations, the customary Easter trappings hardly tell anyone of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Dyed eggs and baskets of tasty sweets may sometimes be framed against the backdrop of a pristine cross, but generally traditional Easter symbols simply augur a new fresh season not the hope of new birth. ( See 2 Corinthians 5:17) "Peter Cottontail " is hardly a trustworthy paradigm of Saint Peter or any other Christian figure. How can a rabbit energize Christians the way a real apostle like Peter, or even a real disciple like Nicolas? (See John 13:35.) Candy or colored fluff and cartoon characters will not declare God's greatest intervention in human history!

But, we can give faith-building symbols and treats from the word of God this Easter. How about building an Easter theme around lilies and cedars? God's joyful promises are beautifully illustrated by both. The lily and cedar are tangible symbols of joy and strength, fitting symbols for Easter. Our lives in Christ will blossom like a lily and take root like a cedar because God's grace gives life.

The fragrant fragile lily blossoms and then sheds its petals quickly. Nevertheless, God gives the lily a bulb that brings forth new flowers life year after year. Although my human strength diminishes, He will reestablish His people, perfect, strong, fruitful, fragrant, and truly beautiful in His time! God's prophet Hosea used these fragrant waxy white plants to memorialize the Lord's promise that He would be bring Israel home after conquest and exile: " . . . Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon." (Hosea 14:6-7)

The cedars of Lebanon embody strength, shade and fragrance. Though they frequently grow to 120 feet or more, strong winds do not uproot these trees. So God, by expressing His providence with word pictures of His verdant trees and plants, tells me that you and I too, will flourish and be strong like them. What a promise to hold to as the years wear on. What a promise to tuck in among gift baskets for our loved ones!

When Jesus Christ triumphantly walked from the tomb 2,000 years ago He showed God's faithfulness even more powerfully than the end of the Babylonian exile. Our Lord's death and resurrection guaranteed our salvation from the bondage to sin and death. In the Lord's resurrection, what God promised the ancient remnant has occurred: He shattered the barrier between God and man! God dwells with His people, healing and nourishing so that we will take root and thrive like strong cedar trees of Lebanon.

Can a chocolate Easter bunny do that? Can plastic grass symbolize that promise?

In Christ, God has extended a gracious invitation to bring us into His kingdom; into His family; into new life. The Christian Easter is a feast recalling that two millennia ago God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. He paid in full the price our sins with the blood of Jesus Christ, and He resurrected His Son because the sacrifice was sufficient. Now it is Christ who presides over the victory celebration with us; let's include symbols in our feast that represent its true meaning. This is a wonderful invitation, greater than one to an "egg roll," even on the White House lawn.

When we give Easter baskets to your family, don't stop with decorated eggs and chocolate rabbits. Include a few "lilies" and maybe even plant some "cedars." How about energizing your baskets and celebrations with one or two simple ideas?

  1. Write some promises of God on colorful paper and insert them as treasures worth hunting.
  2. Bury small Bibles or New Testaments among the grasses.
  3. Have a plan in place before the eager egg stalkers at your home start to search, to tell them the point of the Easter celebration. Stuff some jelly beans in the plastic eggs, along with slips of brightly colored papers with Scripture promises or prayers just for your children.
  4. Never miss an occasion to tell them that on the first Easter God fulfilled his promise to send a Redeemer who emerged triumphant over sin and death. It is the truth that will endure.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, Bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your disease;
Who redeems your life from the pit;
Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
(Psalm 103:1-5)


© Barbara W. Smith 1999, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

Please send a copy of the publication to:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012

We hope our thoughts encourage you in the Lord Jesus Christ who has enabled us to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined -- please let us know what YOU think. E-mail us at workbook@toad.net. (Please don't forget to include your e-mail address with in the body of the message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient e-mail addresses.)




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