Carmen Rasmusen Herbert
Easter has always been a holiday I’ve struggled with.
Not because I don’t deeply appreciate what it’s all about — it is perhaps the most important day we celebrate each year.
But I can’t seem to figure out how to incorporate the beauty of the life of Jesus Christ and his resurrection with the excitement and anticipation of the Easter bunny. I have never wanted Easter to be about candy and collecting eggs, but it seems no matter how hard I’ve tried in the past — spiritually themed baskets, re-enacting the last week of the Savior’s life — I couldn’t get the message through to my boys.
That is, until now.
Emily Belle Freeman is a friend of mine, and one of the most inspirational women I know. She has a beautiful blog at dailyclosertochirst.com, where she shares her thoughts and feelings about all things good, uplifting and inspirational, and she always points back to the Savior. It was just recently when I was browsing around her page that I came across her Easter celebration traditions. I saw a banner hanging from a mantel that had pictures of important people in the Savior’s life and lessons we could learn from them. Each week during “Easter month” (which is March this year), she suggests two activities that pertain to the people and stories pictured on the banner.
“More than anything I want the celebration of Easter to be as important to my family as Christmas is,” she writes in her blog post. “For years it was a weekend celebration for us. Then, for a time, we celebrated Holy Week. But it wasn’t enough. I longed for the preparation of the heart that takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the counting down the days, the remembering the reason for the season, the hope and joy and anticipation that fills my heart in December. I wanted all of that to somehow find its way into this holy season. I wanted my kids to know the stories of Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and Thomas as well as they knew the shepherds, the wise men and the angels.
“So I began to study all of the stories of the most important people that filled the last moments in the life of Jesus. The people who he loved. The people who are a part of the story of Easter.”
I immediately felt this was the answer to my prayer. This was one way I could help my boys understand and be excited about the true meaning of Easter.
“In the Church, the goal of gospel teaching is not to pour information into the minds of God’s children. It is not to show how much the parent, teacher, or missionary knows. Nor is it merely to increase knowledge about the Savior and His Church,” wrote LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in “Learn of Me” in the March 2016 Ensign. “The aim is to inspire individuals to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles. The objective is to develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to become converted to His gospel.”
I wanted my children to think about and feel something special this Easter season so they could begin to build a stronger testimony, which would help them live and be converted to the gospel.
Week 1, we started with the story of Lazarus.
We went to the store and purchased some potting soil and red wheat berries, as Freeman suggested. Then we headed to the copiers and printed off the banner on sturdy glossy paper, and strung brown twine through the top.
Interestingly enough, a week before, we had been given a DVD with an animated version of the story of Lazarus. I showed it to my boys soon after, and they had mixed feelings about the film.
“It was sad,” my 5-year-old said.
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