Posted by  | Tuesday, May 10, 2011  at 8:00 AM  
Coming up on the heals of Easter, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect traditions in our homes. I read Noel Piper's Treasuring God in our Traditions a few years ago and it was such a timely book in the life of our family. The kids were babies and I was thinking about what traditions I wanted to instill. Holidays are fun times and I'm sure we all have sweet childhood memories wrapped around them. Christian holidays, even more than others, are more than just making traditions, but about remembering. God has given us holidays to remember what He's done and to worship him. We, just as the Israelites wandering in the desert immediately after being delivered from Pharoah in Egypt, are quick to forget all that God has done for us. Holidays are a special time set aside to remember!

So, as we think about how we want to teach our children about these special events, we desperately want to develop traditions that point our children to Him. It continues to amaze me just how. secular. our world makes Christian holidays. Living in a totally atheist, pagan society currently, everything is closed Easter weekend. Schools are on "Easter Holiday." Yet, all that most know here about Easter is vacation time from work/school, cute little chocolate bunnies, and egg hunting. In the states, it can be even more unbelieveable. There was a city-wide event in Greenville, SC where a helicopter hovered over a stadium and dropped 50,000 eggs, a few having grand-prizes of new tvs, etc. Wow. Maybe this will sound quite radical to some, but, while egg-hunting alone could be a good, wholesome kids' activity it is the fact that they've taken a religious holiday and totally secularized it to the point where non-believers think Easter is just about eggs, candy, bunnies, etc., etc. And what would that teach my children? We're called to be in the world, not of the world. So, I ask myself, "What traditions can I instill that will teach my children to remember God and all he has done? That will point them to God? And, will set us apart from the world as passionate, God-followers?"

This Easter, there were a couple things we did. First, I highly recommend Focus on the Family's website for ideas of how to celebrate Easter. They are age-appropriate and show how to take some of the secular things - egg hunts, bunnies, etc. - and tie it back into our faith.

We held a "Good News Club" Easter Egg hunt for the neighborhood children. We colored eggs, read The Parable of the Lily, hunted eggs - including Resurrection Eggs, and then sat together in a circle and opened the Resurrection Eggs and told the story of Jesus and the meaning of Easter. Some of the children (and one mom) at the event had never heard this story before. As for my children, we talked about the event and prepared well in advance. My kids got to be involved in sharing their faith and having a God-centered meaning behind something as fun as eggs and candy.

The next big tradition we started this year was making the mountain Jesus died on and tomb for his burial. We started on Palm Sunday with a kleenex box. We wadded newspaper and taped it on until it was a shape we liked. We used the lid of a plastic container for the stone. Then we paper-mached paper towels all over the tomb. After it dried, we did this step another time. After it dried completely, we painted it.

Lydia loved painting it!

On Good Friday the kids woke to find Jesus and the two criminals beside him dying on crosses.

Later that morning, we took Jesus off the cross and wrapped his body in burial cloths (toilet paper) and put his body in the tomb.

The stone was securely put on and Roman soldiers (shepherds from our Nativity set) guarded the tomb all day Friday and Saturday.

On Sunday the kids awoke to find the stone rolled away, the burial clothes empty, and two angels at the tomb. All throughout the steps of the week we read from The Jesus Storybook Bible (which I highly recommend for preschool age children).

The kids had a great time being involved in these activities and I loved creating these special memories, hopefully that through the years will lead them to not only accept Jesus as their personal Savior and long to make him known to the lost, but allow them to have special memories of holidays as they grow into adults and think of traditions with their own children one day.

What about you? What are some traditions you are creating in your family?

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