My family does not participate in Halloween, Thanksgiving is my personal favorite holiday of the year, I wrestle each Christmas with whether or not we should have a Christmas Tree and I would opt out of pretty much all of our pop Christmas celebrations if I thought I could get away with it. I get told around holidays that I take things too seriously, that I am “curmudgeonly”, that I should lighten up and live a little.
I decide for my family what and how we will celebrate. It is hard for me to juggle the appropriate worship of Christ, genuine pursuit of holiness, modeling the pursuit of holiness to my kids, and making sacrifices of time and money to celebrate cultural holidays.
How do I tell my kids that Easter is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, and then demonstrate this celebration by giving my time and money to boiling, dying, hiding, and then finding some eggs. It feels as though Easter Eggs, though fun, are a complete diversion from what Easter is all about. Maybe it is personality, maybe it is me taking conviction and faith too seriously, but I have a hard (HARD) time engaging in anything that is not in line with what I believe to be my purpose, my life’s objective. Hiding Easter Eggs… eh… well…
I believe we are created in the image of God. More specifically, I believe that every person intrinsically has some aspect or attribute of God’s character in them. The Bible makes it pretty clear that God is a creator and an artist. These attributes are found in everybody I know, albeit some more than others. Everybody I have ever met has been proud of something they have made. Everybody I have ever met has had some form of art that they seem to connect with (though some would argue about whether it should or should not be called art). I encourage my kids to express this connection to the Character of God by participating in the “creation” of artistic things… coloring books, clay, pencil and marker drawings… and Eggs on Easter.
I go a bit further than that on Easter though…
I believe that Mankind is the pinnacle of creation. I have heard artists say that there is nothing more beautiful than the “human form.” I stand amazed at the complexity of our biologic systems and functions, I am humbled and awestruck when I ponder the human psyche or the way in which relationships are formed, the way cultures function, the sociology of humanity. EPIC.
At the same time, I am amazed at just how fragile we are. A short sentence full of painfully sharp words so often ends in the death of a relationship. For as resilient as the human body is, we are not that hard to kill.
We are beautiful, we are “fragile”, we are precious. I easily use Easter Eggs to represent the attributes of humanity to my kids. They take time to create them, just like God took time to create us. They express themselves and their artistic creativity on a very fragile, temporary medium just like God did and cotinues to do with us. They value their Easter Eggs just like God values us. These Easter Eggs are precious to my kids, just like we are precious to Jesus.
But that is not where the analogy ends.
We do not live our lives, or have our relationships, or even think our private thoughts in a soft, gentle, comfy environment like Eggs being cradled in plastic grass filled Easter baskets. We live our physical lives in a real world governed by natural laws with legitimate and sometimes immediate consequences. If you are outside when it starts raining, you get wet. It doesn’t matter why you were out there. We have our relationships with other people who are constantly in a state of flux. Emotions, hormones, and insecurity can result in us acting or reacting in a manner that is harsh or harmful to the other person… whether or not they “deserved” it. Our own insecurities, life experiences, expectations, desires, and beliefs create a cauldron that, at times, results in confusion, anxiety, or fear. Though we are precious, every aspect of our lives is surrounded by things that are potentially harmful, most often distracting, usually benign, and sometimes downright malicious.
And this is where I hide my eggs. I take these precious, artistic creations and I place them in grass… distracting, on tree branches… precarious and hard, in the mud… deceptive and hiding their beauty (so similar to how I cover up my insecurity). I scatter these precious Easter Eggs to the far reaches of my yard and I try to hide the very preciousness of these Eggs in order to keep my kids from finding them.
This is where the analogy for my family hits the high notes!
The Bible has a theme that runs through several different stories. A theme of searching for what was lost, recovering and redeeming that which is precious but misplaced.
There is a man who finds a really expensive, precious Jewel in a field. He makes a pretty big sacrifice, sells all he has, and buys the field so that he can recover that precious Jewel.
A shepherd has a bunch of sheep, precious to him, and one of them goes astray. The shepherd embarks upon a search for this sheep in order to restore his lost, precious sheep to the rest of the flock.
We are told that if we separate the precious from the worthless, we will be God’s ambassadors indeed.
And the pinnacle is that we, being precious in the eyes of God, being covered by dirt in our lives, distracted and lost in the grass, deliberately hiding in the mud, or burying ourselves, cold and alone, or vulnerable and exposed like an egg precariously balanced on a tree branch, can be recovered, redeemed, restored, healed…
Easter Eggs, for my family, are not in any way an analogy of Jesus being in the grave and then resurrected. Jesus was not hidden, there were guards at his tomb in order to keep people away… they knew where His body was. He was not beuatiful when he went into the tomb, he was broken, beat, bloody, and arguably unrecognizable when he went in, not at all like our Easter Eggs when we hide them. When Jesus rose from the grave, he did so never to die again, but the Easter Eggs are recovered… and then peeled and eaten! A lot like mankind, precious, beautiful, hopefully recovered by the creator prior to undergoing that which is also common to all mankind, death and decomposition.
I do not send my kids out to find Easter Eggs in a participation of Resurrecting Jesus from the grave, I send my kids out to separate the precious from the worthless and to bring those beautiful, fragile, little Eggs back into a place of safety…
If you are a Christian who has struggled with the idea of Easter Eggs and Jesus, please consider my thoughts and take a look Matthew 13:45-56, Luke 15:1-7, and Jeremiah 15:19-21.