What do bunnies and eggs have to do with the resurrection of Christ? Should we allow them to be part of our celebration?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. I Peter 1:3-5, NIV
When my children were small, I wanted to teach them the REAL message of our holidays, cleansed of pagan implications, and some people became very impatient with me over my ideas. For example, I never taught my children about Santa Claus, and emphasized that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. We did not celebrate Halloween at all, although we did participate in harvest celebrations at the church. Forget the Tooth Fairy, she didn't come to our house! I wouldn't even buy my children Lucky CharmsÔ cereal because I didn't want to get into the leprechaun and magic thing. Even some of the things DisneyÔ put out were off limits because of their association with witchcraft and the occult.
On Easter, we would color eggs and my children would get Easter baskets of some sort, although I leaned towards the practical side and bought them toys and hair ornaments instead of a lot of candy. We usually bought new outfits and proudly wore them to church and posed for pictures in all our finery. But I never taught them about the Easter Bunny, and always tried to emphasize that our celebration has more to do with Jesus being raised from the dead than with eggs and bunnies.
Or does it?
I was browsing a craft booth the other day and the vendor was selling soft cloth books for infants about various things, and one of them was about Easter. Having a 9-month-old grandson, I thought about purchasing one. But in looking at the contents, I was rather repelled at the graphic pictures of the crucifixion. Even in cartoon form, they didn't seem appropriate for his innocent eyes.
And I began to think about the Easter events from his perspective and understanding. The time will come when he realizes we live in a cruel and bloodthirsty world, in a culture obsessed with death. Soon enough he will learn how we struggle with sin, how venal and oppressive human beings can be. There will come a time when he needs to know about the debt we owe and the terrible price that Jesus paid for us.
But not yet. In his innocent world, his worst problem is a hunger pang or perhaps a skinned knee as he tries to learn to walk. He gets uncomfortable with a sodden diaper, and he knows he likes to be held better than not. He is still a baby himself and needs a baby's understanding of the love of God.
And in that context, well, cute little bunnies and brightly colored eggs seem about right. The joy and excitement, interesting shapes, a bit of a sweet treat - that is about all he can understand of what resurrection life means. And all he needs to know right now.
Oh I don't need to tell him tales of bunnies laying eggs, or other nonsense that is patently false. But when you think about what bunnies, and chickies, and spring flowers, and sunshine, and eggs represent - all creations of God our Father, all symbols of the hope of new life - from our perspective, being raised from the dead, from his, the joy and delight he finds in each new discovery - then an understanding dawns about why these things have become associated with our Resurrection celebrations, and why, for children, they are appropriate.
Even though it will be a while before my grandson will understand the astounding events that happened between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, even though the need of a Savior is not yet evident to him, and although the Empty Tomb has no meaning this year, I can still tell him about the God who loves him, who has made the sunshine, and the bunnies, and the chickies and the flowers and the eggs. I can begin to build a foundation through the eyes of HIS understanding to introduce him to Jesus.And perhaps, as spiritual babes ourselves, we need the joy and the hope before we can fully understand the necessity of the pain and suffering - maybe the bunnies and the eggs can testify to us as well of God's love, provision and plan.
We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life. For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God]. Romans 6:4-5, Amplified.
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