A few years ago, I saw a mom’s post on Facebook about the special way she’d presented her children’s Easter baskets that year, and I knew I was going to steal her idea for every Easter to come.
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Growing up, our Easter baskets were just a fun tradition of goodies that we all looked forward to on Easter morning. But they never really connected to the reason we celebrated Resurrection Sunday. Marshmallow Peeps, jelly beans, Robin Eggs, and big chocolate bunnies don’t exactly clearly point to a risen Savior who gave His life for us. (Although Hershey does make chocolate crosses for Easter if you can find them. I try to grab them early in the season at our Walmart.) It was okay, though, because we knew what Easter was all about.
Easter is such a vital part of Christianity, though, that when I saw how our children’s baskets could be used in a powerfully teachable moment, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to bring that eternal impact. So we’ve borrowed that random Facebook mom’s Easter basket idea ever since.
While you could easily set this all up to do on Good Friday and leave it until Sunday, we’ve always done it on that Saturday night before Easter.
While it’s usually a very festive and fun for us with egg hunts, sometimes a birthday, lots of preparation for the next day, biblically that Saturday was a sad day. Just the day before, Jesus had been crucified and buried. His disciples were in hiding, confused, disappointed, and fearing for their lives. I imagine there was a heaviness hovering over all creation. Yes, the veil had been torn and the dead had risen to go about the city, but honestly, that’s just mysterious and frightening on an uncertain Saturday without the victory of Sunday morning to make sense of it all.
As a way to mark Saturday and prepare our hearts to celebrate fully on Resurrection Sunday, our new tradition goes a little something like this.
Our New Easter Basket Tradition
I gather our boys in the kitchen, around the table, with their empty Easter baskets. Beforehand, I’ve collected some rocks from our driveway (or you could buy some), and those rocks are sitting in a small bucket nearby, along with a good Sharpie marker.
We start by asking the boys about the Easter story, what happened, and why we celebrate. Inevitably we’ll come to the fact that our sins are why Jesus came to die. So I have the boys give me suggestions of things that they know are wrong or “bad things” that they know they’ve done. We talk about sins that my children can relate to – lying, disobedience, being mean to siblings. Whatever they mention, I will write on a rock or two, and the boys place them in their baskets.
Once they have at least a small collection of rocks, we talk about the wages of sin, as in Romans 6:23, and how sin “earns” us death.
Then we discuss how we can be forgiven of those sins because of Jesus’s sacrifice – His choosing to take our punishment for us because He loves us. At the end of our short discussion, we cover the baskets with a red cloth to symbolize His blood that was shed for us, covering our sins.
Saturday night, after the boys are in bed, I’ll take out the rocks and fill their baskets with all the expected Easter goodies. Then I cover it all back up again.
On Sunday morning, we do a quick talk about how Jesus rose from the dead and how His death and resurrection mean new life for us, too.
Then comes the unveiling. Even though we’ve done this before, and they know what’s going to happen, they are still excited. The boys remove the cloth to find that their rocks – their “sins”- have been exchanged for lots of good things.
We remind our boys, as they dive into the goodies in their baskets, that Jesus takes our sin and our punishment, and in their place, He gives us forgiveness, new life, freedom, an eternity in Heaven, and so much more.
It’s a victorious, joyous, tangible way to understand, even a little, how much Jesus did for us and how much we have to celebrate and praise Him for on Easter and every day.
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