Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's not about the rabbit, or the bunny...the art of teaching children about the Resurrection

Two Saturdays before Palm Sunday we had a children's "retreat" at our church. It was actually sort of a condensed three hour Vacation Bible School on a Saturday afternoon. The idea was to teach the youngsters about the coming Holy Week and all the symbolism with songs, Bible stories and hands on activities. I was trying to explain to the children that Jesus was called the Lamb of God and why. We talked about the egg being a symbol for the resurrection and that they could think of it as a tomb like the tomb Jesus was buried in. The fact that the Easter bunny didn't figure into any of this baffled them all. After the reading of the big Bible picture book about Easter and the making of the Lamb of God banners, the Jesus is in my heart "stain glass" suncatchers and the coloring of hard boiled eggs; after the eating of the popcorn and the cookies and drinking the punch, we had a little review. When asked about the Ressurection, one little boy raised his hand and said, "They buried Jesus in the tomb and three days later he turned into an Easter egg!" We all had a good laugh. Maybe next year I will figure out a better way to get these concepts across to the children.

One of the liturgists from our church preached that Sunday as our pastor was ill. She talked to the adults about the significance of the days of Holy week and used as a resource Treasury of Easter Celebrations by Julie Hogan, ISBN 0-8249-4206-X Co.1999 Ideals Publications. I will have to get a copy of the book, a great resource if you want to know more about this season of the year and the origin of the traditions.

Hebrew people who joined the Christian religion brought with them the traditions of their ancient Passover festival. The lamb's life was a sacrifice to God. Jesus is our Easter lamb. Christ our Passover lamb is sacrificed for us, the Lamb of God. As the Lamb, Christ has reached a need we could not. He has become the sacrifice we could not give. He is the Lamb who was slain so that we could bow and sing in the presence of God on Easter Sunday.

The actual word Easter didn't appear until about 1400 years ago when the early christians adopted the word that referred to the spring celebration of the goddess Eostre. They thought this would be more acceptable to the people they were trying to convert to Chrisitanity. The rabbit was the sacred companion of this goddess of spring. Easter really should be called Resurrection Day, the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. It's not about the bunny, its all about the Lamb of God!

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