by Chuck Lawless
In just a few days, believers around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Congregations will meet before sunrise to focus on the truth that Jesus is alive. Families will dress in their finest clothes for this special day. Folks who typically don’t attend church will do so this week. As you celebrate Easter this year, think about these practical ways to celebrate the holiday:
- Focus on new beginnings. We make new commitments at the start of a new year, but let’s be honest: for many of us, we’ve already given up on those commitments by the time Easter comes around. If ever there were a time to start over, though, it’s Easter. The resurrection is God’s reminder that hope still exists. If you’re already behind in your Bible reading for this year, start again. If you’ve failed in your commitment to pray regularly with your spouse, re-start this week. Walk away from that sin that is controlling you. Start afresh, renewed by God’s resurrection power.
- Start Easter family traditions. Many families have Easter lunch together, but I’m thinking of more than that. Read the Easter story on Sunday morning, just as you do the Christmas story. Use old photographs to remember loved ones, and talk about the importance of resurrection hope. Bake Easter cookies for your neighbors. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Make holiday memories that your children will want to duplicate in their own families.
- Send Easter cards or an Easter letter. We expect cards or family letters at Christmas, but not at Easter. This year, send a resurrection card to everyone on your Christmas card list. If you send an Easter family letter, focus more on Jesus than on your family. Talk about his love, his grace, his forgiveness, and his victory over death. Be sure to write about the hope you have in Christ.
- Reach out to others who buried a loved one in the past year. Churches usually do well in ministering to grieving families at the time of a death, but that ministry is not always lasting. Eventually, the loving crowds return to busy lives. The holidays are often especially difficult as families find themselves alone. This Easter, call one of those families and pray with them. What better time than Easter is there to celebrate life and look forward to resurrection?
- Learn about and pray for a people group who know nothing about Jesus’ resurrection. Missionaries tell us that 1.7 billion people have little access to the gospel. They do not know the name of Jesus, much less the story of his conquering death. Learn about one of these people groups at www.joshuaproject.net, teach your children about them, and then pray they will hear the Easter story.
- Tell somebody what Jesus means in your life. As Christians, we know we need to be telling the gospel story. Why not tell others during the Easter season? Maybe you can approach someone this way: “I know a lot of folks think about going to church on Easter. May I have five minutes to tell you why this holiday is so important to me?” You might find somebody who has been waiting for some good news!
- Write a thank you note to someone who models overcoming faith. Maybe it’s that friend who experienced disaster, but who trusted God through the pain. Perhaps it’s a missionary who has been faithful even when his life was at risk. It might be your church pastor or a Bible study teacher. It may even be your parent or one of your children. Easter is about celebrating victory – so honor God by celebrating what He’s done through someone else’s life.
- Don’t give up. I don’t know what you’re facing. You might be discouraged and hurting. The mountain you’re trying to climb is steep, or the valley you find yourself in is deep. Prayer seems useless. Trusting God is tough because the obstacles are so big. Whatever you’re facing, though, is not bigger than the God who defeated death. Don’t give up – the God of resurrection is alive.
In what other practical ways do you or your church celebrate Easter?