Lately, I’ve been thinking about Christian traditions, Easter being second in the Christian calendar to Christmas.
Like Christmas, some Easter traditions are derived from pagan rituals, or twisted by modern secularism. Eggs were painted as a symbol of rebirth for the coming spring. Some people even argue that the name Easter is from a pagan origin! (although that’s hotly debated by scholars!).
Whether I’m ignoring old church traditions that have lost meaning to me or adopting worldly (and admittedly delicious) traditions – either way I’m getting lost at Easter time and I’m missing the point. With all this in mind I decided to be more intentional this Easter. I want to reclaim Easter, not just spiritually, but practically too. I want to take on new Easter traditions that I hope will form and shape me using years of Christian traditions in a fresh way.
In Ireland, Lent was something that we did as children. Charities, like Trócaire, used this well known practise to encourage children to raise money by putting pocket money, that they would’ve spent on sweets, in a collection box. After moving to the U.K. the first mention of lent was from a charity called Stewardship who promote a project called 40acts:
Every day of Lent they send out an act which can vary from: giving a stranger a chocolate bar, making a change which will better the environment or simply spending quality time with someone. It encourages you to be generous with your time, your money and your comfort. As I watch my 3 year old grow up, the more I realise that he copies what I do, in one way or another. He repeats words I say, he knows how to get blueberries out of the fridge, he tells me to zip up my coat and hands me my glasses. How will he ever develop spiritual disciplines if he never sees me pray or read my bible? If I want him to have a God-relationship beyond a Sunday morning, I need to show him what that looks like, including preparing for Easter in a way that he can understand.
Maybe by: Having our own last supper on a low table with pillows, explaining how the hollow chocolate egg is like Jesus’ tomb after he was raised or making an Easter garden together, he will grow up remembering these traditions and their meaning.
Lately, I have seen the beauty in liturgy. Prayers written hundreds of years ago about Jesus having the same beauty and meaning to me as when they were written. Other traditions from the past that we can use include: Touching water to remember once again the baptism that sealed our commitment, the stations of the cross and stations of the resurrection and interceding in prayer on behalf of others, just like Jesus did for us. These traditions were not part of my upbringing but are practises which I hope will help shape me this Easter.
Here’s a beautiful prayer I found while exploring the ancient wisdom I’ve too easily forgotten. Let’s make it our prayer:
Almighty God, who through your only‑begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life, grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life‑giving Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.Amen.[Text Wrapping Break – St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)