“How are you preparing your heart for Easter?”
Probably not a question you ask or hear, very often. At least I don’t. I ask and answer questions for Easter dinner, swapping recipes for ham and cheesy potatoes and spring-y desserts. I overhear conversations about celebrating with kids, how to teach them about this wonderful and often confusing event in the Christian calendar. I go to Lenten mid-week services at my church and sing songs about waiting and hope on Sunday mornings. I shop for pretty dresses for my daughters and handsome suits for my son, to be worn for Easter Sunday. In a few days we will recognize the start of the season of Lent by imposing ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday as a reminder that we are made from dust, and to dust we shall return.
But talking about and actively preparing my heart for Easter? Not so much.
It’s different than, say, preparing our hearts for Christmas. While we can take in the message of Christmas throughout the time of Advent, choosing to pause each day and focus on a part of the story while taking intentional time for our hearts, preparing for the glory of Easter is a little more elusive. It’s easier to prepare our homes and menus.
Growing up, my family didn’t hold Easter traditions as tightly as the ones we held dear at Christmas time mainly because of logistics. My mom was a church choir director and also a trumpet player. If you’ve attended Easter Sunday services at a traditional church, there’s a good chance there was a choir singing their hearts out and a brass player or two trumpeting alleluias. My mom’s job was intense during the season of Lent, and on Easter Sunday our day started before dawn with the sunrise services. (Side note: because we had to be at church so early on Easter, the clever ‘Easter Bunny’ hid our Easter baskets right in our carseats! Wasn’t that so smart? 😉 )
With three, tired kids in tow, our family traditions had to be flexible, so we held them loosely.
We spent several years joining precious family friends at their home for an egg hunt in their yard, followed by a beautiful meal around their table. One Easter when I was in college, a friend of mine from school joined our family for the day, as he couldn’t travel back home, and we enjoyed brunch at a stunning old mansion-turned-restaurant. I spent several Easter Sundays as a youth director running the youth group’s Easter brunch, bussing tables and refilling fruit salad and overseeing the egg bake. Early in our marriage we spent Easter with my husband’s family, traveling to be with them over the weekend. And now that my husband works at a church, we spend the morning there and the afternoon with my family.
Easter never quite looked the same for my family, and that actually became the tradition. Each year brought a different setting, a different menu, even different people around the table. But while the traditions were ready, were our hearts? Were they really ready for the return of alleluias on Easter Sunday?
Instead of relying on rituals and traditions to set the holiday apart from any other Sunday, I need to rely on the Holy Spirit to move and bring the awe that comes with a rolled-away stone.
Because Easter isn’t just about one Sunday; it’s about the journey He took all the way to the cross. It’s worth getting ready for.
This year, I’ll be using the brand new resource from (in)courage and Mary Carver. Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter will live on my nightstand, my desk, in my purse, and in my hands. The stories and prayers, Scriptures and illustrations will speak to my heart, and by Easter Sunday I know I’ll be as ready as anyone can be to celebrate the glory of resurrection.
I’ll go to church, hug my family and friends, and miss those who can’t be with us. I’ll dress my son in suspenders and my girls in patent leather shoes, make sure my husband has a pressed shirt, and I’ll wear something floral. We’ll resurrect our alleluias from the somber days of Lent. Wherever I end up and whomever I’m with, we will break bread together, eating with glad and sincere hearts.
And each minute of the day, I’ll be giving thanks for a Savior who willingly died and who didn’t want to be apart from us for more than three days. My heart will be closer to ready for alleluia.
Here’s to the traditions we hold dear and the celebrations we hold loosely. Here’s to the imperfect tables we may set and the love of Jesus that brings us together. Here’s to getting our hearts ready for the joy of Easter.
This year, journey to the cross with us.
Get your copy of Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter wherever books are sold — and if you purchase from DaySpring, you’ll get FREE shipping!
Easter isn’t just about one Sunday; it’s about the journey He took all the way to the cross. #journeytothecross -@annaerendell: Click To Tweet