Few people outside of church circles link the Easter story to the death and resurrection of Jesus. But what if the same is happening in churches? Alex Taylor challenges us to intentionally engage with the festival this holiday.
According to research carried out by Kantar and reported in the i newspaper on 3rd April, the people of the UK have already spent £146m on Easter eggs in 2019. While there’s nothing wrong with Easter eggs (dark chocolate for me please, or at least a Crème Egg straight from the fridge), it does make you wonder what would happen if we spent that much money engaging with the Easter story.
Yet for many, the Easter weekend remains secular. The i also reported figures from research by Statista that while 75 per cent of people celebrated Easter in 2018, only 25 per cent said that going to church was their most important Easter tradition (way behind eating Easter baked goods).
While we can decry the loss of meaning in our most important of festivals, if we’re honest our own Easter weekends can often be devoid of faith input. The impetus to visit family (the most important thing about Easter according to Statista’s survey) means that we can miss out on going to church over the Easter period.
With Easter holidays for children and bank holidays for adults, you’d expect that there’d be plenty of time to focus on faith, but the days seem to fill with the aforementioned family visits, trips out, finding childcare and doing revision (if you have teenagers studying for exams).
But this needn’t be the case! With a bit of reshuffling, you can fit in some meaningful time to focus on the story of Easter and help children and young people (and you) reflect on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Can you identify a time in the day when you’re all together? This could be first thing in the morning (if your children get up early) or before your evening meal. It could even be when you’re in the car travelling to granny’s house. Try listening to the Easter story on an audio Bible (YouVersion or BibleGateway have various audio options), stopping at different points to reflect on what’s going on and what this tells you about Jesus and the events of Easter. Cars are ideal places to do this as people can chat without having to sit face to face with each other (and so feel pressurised into answering).
As Victoria Beech has explored in her ‘Forming faith rituals’ articles in Premier Youth and Children’s Work, you can use play to explore Bible stories, making things unstructured so that children can interact with the story and characters however they like. Simply tell the story from a children’s Bible storybook and then let the children play with toys such as Lego gardens and Playmobil people, or go outside to play.
Try to get to a church service over the Easter weekend, even if you’re not at home. This needn’t be on Good Friday or Easter Sunday; there might be a Messy Church event on Saturday afternoon. If you’re not at your usual church, do some research online about the nearest church to where you will be and find an appropriate service to go to. This factor of the ‘unknown’ might give you plenty to talk about as you encounter a familiar story in an unfamiliar way. Make sure you find some time after the service to chat informally about what your whole family thought.
So, enjoy your eggs, buns and Simnel cake (for the marzipan aficionados among you), but don’t miss out on some massive faith-building opportunities this holiday!