“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 Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I realized that the start of Lent is next Weds the 26th. I have made a conscientious effort to slow my heart with an Advent devotion each year, but like you, Easter just kind of sneaks up on me. I just ordered “The Journey to the Cross” so it will be here in time to begin on the 26th. This is a gift to myself and I’m going to make a promise to be still and lean into the Lord’s presence and embrace His sacrifice. Since I’ve said this, you can hold me accountable! Inviting others to join with me in this soul-care.
Anna E. Rendell says
Yeah! We’re in this together now 🙂
Good morning Anna,
I truly love what you said about Jesus “who didn’t want to be apart from us for more than three days. “ His love is massive for us. I, too, grew up and continue to follow Lent and the joys of Easter . Have a wonderful day in Jesus .
Anna E. Rendell says
Thank you Kamilah. So glad you’re here!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Easter and Christmas. Two important dates. Jesus God son. He choose for him to be born in no fancy place just a humble Manger. To show the Whole World he need no to be born with no airs or graces. NO BETTER CHRISTMAS PRESENT DID GOD GIVE US BY JESUS BEING BORN. But God then choose for his one and only son to then go on to go on Clavary Cross for me and you. Because God Loved us so much. God could have choose for his one and only son Jesua to be born some where fancy but no. It was just a HUMBLE MANGER. THEN GO ON AFTER TO THE CROSS OF CLAVARY. What a journey that was for the KING of the WORLD. On that Journey he taught us how to live for him. JESUS left us the comforter the Holy Spirit. To guide us who are saved. To know how to live right for him. Here him speak too us his followers. On that Cross Jesus shed his Blood for us so our SINS could be forgiven. No better love could be given. For God So Loved The World He Gave His One And Only Son. John 3 verse 16. Love Dawn Ferguson-Litte xxxxxx
BC from BC says
Yes I truly believe we all could prepare more for Easter. We all get so busy we forget to make time for the sacrifice Jesus paid for us all. Pray this Easter we will make the time as He so wants us in His tender care.
Just a side note: As Christians we need to take the emphasis off the Easter Bunny. It’s not of God and non believers are watching us. It’s a mixed message. It’s all about Jesus.
Beth Williams says
Easter seems so far away. My family never really celebrated Easter growing up. Although their first date was a Maundy Thursday service at mom’s church (she was church secretary). My hubby works weekends. I know I will be ready for the alleluias. Most of the time I sing loud & proud (off tune though). At my church we have a communion meditation & partake of communion each week. We don’t forget His sacrifice. Jesus did not have to leave the splendor of Heaven & come to Earth to save us. He chose to do so because His love is so immense. We have a wall hanging of bloody Jesus on the cross with crowns. I sit where I can see it each week. It pains me to know that He willingly did that for little me. Someone who doesn’t always give Him the time & love He deserves. I will prepare my heart for Easter by listening to Easter music, envisioning the stone rolled away & seeing the grave clothes neatly folded.
This year our youth will be doing the early morning service at 7:30 AM. Can’t wait to see & experience what they have in store for us. Then we will all go share breakfast food we prepared. One thing I miss is Palm Sunday celebrations. Some churches have young people walk down the aisles with palm branches & the sermon is about that day & the coming week.