Rediscovering the Symbols of Easter

rediscovering-symbols-easter

Phil Vischer recently appeared on Family Life Today to discuss the symbols of Easter and how Christians can use them to teach the gospel. Read more thoughts on how eggs and bunnies can point us toward Jesus rather than splitting Easter into what seems like two very different holidays.

Christian parents know that Easter can mean fun for their families – with egg hunts at church and baskets full of sweet treats for their little ones. But they also may worry about the conversations those traditions provoke. Reconciling the true meaning of Easter with the secular, marketing-driven holiday the world celebrates can be tricky for adults, and even more difficult to explain to kids!

Even though the historical celebration of Easter was a really big deal in the early Church, today Easter is often celebrated in a single week, with waving palm fronds one Sunday and singing “He Is Risen” the next. Meanwhile, the secular marking of “Easter” is even shorter — a one-day affair — seen as just another reason to put marshmallow and sugar together and sell it to the masses.

But Easter – the celebration of Christ’s resurrection – is the turning point for all of history, and the most meaningful event for our faith. After all, if Christ did not rise, then we’re just going though the motions for something that’s meaningless (1 Corinthians 15:17). It is important that our kids understand the true significance of Easter for their own lives and faith, and we can use traditions like bunnies and eggs to help communicate that meaning.

Somehow, our Easter has actually become two separate Easters. We go to church and hear about Jesus and the empty tomb, then we come home and turn on the TV and find Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail. It’s “here are your eggs, here’s your candy and here’s your ‘butter lamb’!” It leaves kids wondering, “What are we really celebrating?”

We need to think through our traditions because kids deserve to understand what we’re celebrating and why.

Maybe you thought you were already doing that. Many Christian parents have been careful to avoid any secular connotation, so we keep the eggs and bunnies far away from the crosses and palm branches, afraid that one will contaminate the other. In the process, we toss aside tools that could help bring Easter alive for our kids.

Bunnies and eggs don’t have to take away from the true meaning of Easter, and we can even use them as tools to explain it!

Some of the symbols of Easter have become so associated with the secular side of the holiday that we no longer see how they can help us communicate the gospel message. Maybe it’s because we’ve lost sight of the big picture. We’ve made Easter all about the forgiveness of sin and eliminating judgment, but Jesus also said, “I’ve come to bring life and to bring it to you abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Eggs represent new life and so do baby bunnies. After the long, cold winter, the world explodes with new life in spring. These symbols have historically been signs pointing to Jesus. The church used eggs way back in the Middle Ages when they would paint them blood red as a symbol of Jesus, so they could tell Christ’s story. Up until the last 400 years, teaching the Bible often meant teaching illiterate people. Teachers had to use symbols instead of written words. Even the stained glass windows in churches were used to tell a story of redemption.

We’re so literate now – with our blogs and our books and our overabundance of words – that we’ve lost touch with the power of symbols to communicate. We don’t remember a time when a red egg was all someone needed to tell the story of Jesus. Well, it’s time to change that because these symbols provide a great opportunity for us to be intentional about teaching Easter to kids.

Easter is full of symbols, but when we don’t immediately see the connection back to Jesus we get uncomfortable and want to throw them away. Instead, let’s talk about bunnies and eggs and the new life they represent. Then when we talk about Jesus’ promise — “I’ve come to give you new life and give it abundantly” — our kids will truly understand what that means and begin to live it out, this Easter and for every Easter to come.


easter-book-260

 

What Is Easter? is a new book by Phil Vischer that helps explain how the symbols we see at Easter time point back to Jesus and the new life we have in him.

small blue buy now

 

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20 comments
Ann Marie Milhorn
Ann Marie Milhorn

I am going to have to agree with Leena on this. We are warned to be in the world, not of the world. It's not about discouraging the natural delight children have with bunnies or eggs but Jesus loves children; shouldn't we point them to Him? I'm not judging anyone but my household does not combine the world's version of Easter with the intentional choice Jesus made to come down to earth, take my sins upon Him, die and be raised from the dead. O, death where is your victory? Just my two cents...

Dana McDonald Jamieson
Dana McDonald Jamieson

Thank you! It's so nice to see this! Children love the joy that comes along with "eggs and bunnies". There's no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to be kids AND learn how it pertains to Christ. My son is so Godly at such a young age yet he has never been deprived of such things. Those who think you need to separate the two are sadly mistaken. That's adults bestowing their own issues upon children. I find it very sad for those children.

Leena Mondon
Leena Mondon

I am not against the Easter Bunny for kids. I had Easter things when I was a kid and gave my kids the same. My point is only that as kids age, some never grasp on to the real meaning of Easter, which is the Resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ... if you scroll up, you will see that you are the one who replied to my simple comment...

Dana McDonald Jamieson
Dana McDonald Jamieson

I thought you were done? If that's how you feel then you shouldn't be getting snarky with a facebook page based on a children's ministry curriculum. You should be talking to a page based on wordly things. You're attacking the wrong crowd.

Marie Kuchenmeister
Marie Kuchenmeister

I'm sorry people didn't read this as a way to make the connection to point people to Jesus. In the U.S, there's an over abundance of secularism. It's not going away, so why not use it to our advantage? It doesn't mean you have to teach your children that the bunny comes, but when they ask why you have a Jesus centered answer to share.

Sam Farah
Sam Farah

Would be nice if such explanations could be applied globally. Seasons are so different around the world, yet we use them so often to apply to global holidays or events. In Australia, Easter comes in Autumn after a nice long summer. Pretty hard to explain eggs and rabbits as symbols of the new life Spring represents when all around are dying leaves!

Suz N Cray West
Suz N Cray West

Definitely off the liked following for not sharing truth:(

Sue Gerdes
Sue Gerdes

Rabbits, eggs and the dying of eggs among other "Easter symbols" are very real symbols used in an ancient pagan festival that celebrated the resurrection of the god, Tammuz. It is still celebrated by some pagans today in much the same way. Celebrate the Resurrection (we celebrate it on the Feast of First Fruits) but please do not include these pagan symbols in your celebrations or teach others to do so. :( Adonai gave a very strong warning about mixing pagan worship with our worship of Him. “take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:30-31). Our G-D does not change. Adonai bless you.

Leena Mondon
Leena Mondon

~ Easter is about the resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. ...bunny-rabbits and eggs are symbolism's for Spring. When did the two turn into one? :/

What's in the Bible?
What's in the Bible?

Hope you will take a look at the article - they aren't one and the same but can be a wonderful tool to teach kids what Easter is all about - which is Jesus. Good News for everyone. We hope you have a wonderful Easter Leena!

Kimberly Schueler
Kimberly Schueler

Since this is so melded together in our culture, you can teach your kids that Spring represents new life, just as eggs bring life, and Christ brings life.

Leena Mondon
Leena Mondon

many these days don't believe the Devil is real and many don't go to church or follow Jesus.... I wonder why

Leena Mondon
Leena Mondon

yea I am uptight. I wish more would claim Jesus as King and stop being so worldly...

Leena Mondon
Leena Mondon

No, eggs don't bring life. Almighty Father God brings life through His Holy Son Jesus Christ. And if you wanna get technical, human life does not just begin with an egg ~ it takes a sperm too. Did you teach your kids that? And what about the bunny-rabbits? How do they correlate with Easter?

Dana McDonald Jamieson
Dana McDonald Jamieson

There's nothing wrong with using joyous tools to teach children about the Lord. Children are filled with love, imagination and wonder. Many adults should stop being so uptight and learn from that...

Dana McDonald Jamieson
Dana McDonald Jamieson

Or maybe some should stop being so judgemental. You don't know the first thing about me yet you love to throw stones. Very Christian-like...

Leena Mondon
Leena Mondon

I didn't say you, I said more... Christianity is declining yet the Easter Bunny is popular as ever. Happy Easter. I'm done.