Week 5 The Hand of Love
Think of all the things you can touch that are related to this special season. What does Easter feel like?…a newborn chick’s soft feathers or the hard shell of an egg (or its ooey, gooey insides!); the rough wood of a cross or the smooth & cool carved stone of the tomb; fine fabrics of a new outfit; the stiff reeds of a basket; soft velvety flower petals; the soft caress of a spring breeze or the moistness of a spring shower or dew to name a few.
The death and resurrection of Jesus was not an imaginary event, but a very real and tangible historical occurrence. The reality of this event is of the utmost importance for the believer. It is the crucial difference between our faith and every other. The phone ad says, “reach out and touch someone” and a popular greeting card ad says, “when you care enough to send the very best”. “The touch – the feel – the fabric of our lives is not cotton but is rather the grace of the Risen one – Jesus on the cross is God’s ad for just that. God is a God of touch and Jesus walked the earth, touching and embracing the world that he creatively made with a word and a touch. He came to earth to be close to us and He waits to love and warmly touch us!
Thomas actually touched the risen Lord and John records that Jesus is real in 1 John 1:1 when he writes, ” That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”
One phrase often quoted on plaques and posters sums up the touch aspect or the Easter Kaleidoscope: I asked Jesus how much he loved me and He answered, “This much”, and He spread out His arms and died.
Passover is a traditional Jewish celebration with special food, songs, and prayers. It is a time of remembrance of the first Passover in the book of Exodus, when the Lord God passed over the homes covered by the blood of the lamb, not allowing the destroyer to enter, and the Hebrews escaped from 430 years of slavery in Egypt. God commanded that this day be kept.
For the believer, it also represents a second Passover, when the Lord of Life grants us life and freedom eternal and abundant because we are covered by the blood of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb. This is why we celebrate communion as commanded.
According to Hebrew custom, only certain pots and utensils are used during the 8 days; dietary laws are strictly observed; preparation is extensive. Some families tie up the cupboards containing the equipment that cannot be used and all the foods that cannot be eaten are removed from the house. Forbidden foods contain leavened grains (wheat, barley, rye or oats that have had a chance to ferment or have yeast added to them).
The night before Passover begins Jewish parents hide candy all over the house and the children search for it with feather dusters and flashlights, symbolizing the search for leavened foods by their ancestors. This is also one probable predecessor to Easter egg hunts.
During the Passover meal, or Seder, an adult hides the “afikomen”, a special piece of matzo or sweet cookie, meaning dessert. The dinner ends with a treasure hunt for afikomen, hidden in a napkin, which the finder “sells” back, receiving a reward or ransom. The Seder can’t end until everyone has tasted a bit of Afikomen, the sweetness of mercy and grace.
The Passover meal is a ceremony or ritual that involves the children asking the question, “why is this night different from all other nights?” The parents explain the reason. The meal is eaten in a reclining position; as slaves the Hebrews had to stand or sit on a hard bench to eat, so they celebrate their deliverance sitting in comfort.
People at the Cross
Women Matt 27:55-56
Judas/Scribes/Pharisees/Pilate Matt. 26:47-49, 16:6,12, 27:24
Sleeping Disciples Matt. 26:40,41
Peter Matt 26:70-74
Simon the Cyrene Mark 15:21,22
Nicodemus & Joseph John 19:38-40
Taste: Pretzels are a special food, originally eaten during holy week, especially in Austria, Germany and Poland. The pretzel came from Italy, where a monk first twisted the dough to resemble the shape of a person with his arms folded in prayer. He gave these “little prizes” to the children who learned their prayers. Some people hung the bread pretzels on palm branches as part of their Palm Sunday celebration.
Listen: Listen to or read an Easter story. There are several great ones but my favorite is Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. Others: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The Other Wiseman by O Henry Van Dyke. Ragman by Walter Wangerin. The Tale of 3 Trees by Angela Hunt. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.
Look: Look at the night sky. What constellations do you see? What makes the spring sky different from the rest of the seasons? Imagine what Christ saw as he looked at the stars each night 2000 years ago. Did you see a shooting star? Some say that is God’s way of blowing the world a good night kiss! Every year there are meteor showers and comets. Go to an observatory and ask what you can look for!
Smell: Easter is a wonderful time of celebration. Notice and remember all the smells that are part of this time of year. What smells do you like best? Which ones do you dislike? How many different odors can you count? This is a good time to choose a new perfume or cologne. Go to a store and ask for some samples, try the display bottles and choose something fresh with the aroma of spring and full of triumph in honor of our Lord.
Touch: When Jesus was walking the road to the cross a man named Simon came along and offered to carry the Lord’s cross to Calvary. He shared the burden. Touch is very important. Think of all the people Christ touched while on this earth and since! Name some of the ways he has touched your life. Take the example Simon and our Lord and bear another’s burden this week. Be a stretcher bearer. Lift someone up.
Do: Make Easter cards. Collect flower petals and put them between sheets of waxed paper Press the petals in the waxed paper under heavy books for a day or two. Next, fold a piece of blank paper in half to make the card. Write your Easter message inside. Glue the pressed flowers on the front. You can also use colored tissue paper, stamps, paints, stickers, etc. to decorate your cards.
A mosaic card is also a creative idea. Put eggshells in a bowl and crush them. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir until colored. Pat dry with a paper towel and do this for several colors. Fold a piece of construction paper into a card. Use some white glue dropped in a pattern and sprinkle the colored shells onto the glue like glitter. When it dries, shake off the loose eggshells. You’ll have a pretty eggshell mosaic card to send!