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Celebrating Easter

with Barbara Rainey | March 29, 2017

Barbara Rainey encourages believers to keep Christ's death, burial and resurrection at the forefront of their Easter celebrations. By participating with your family in activities, such as watching an Easter movie or sitting down to a Passover meal, your're following the command of Christ to remember what He did for us.

Barbara Rainey encourages believers to keep Christ's death, burial and resurrection at the forefront of their Easter celebrations. By participating with your family in activities, such as watching an Easter movie or sitting down to a Passover meal, your're following the command of Christ to remember what He did for us.

Celebrating Easter

With Barbara Rainey
|
March 29, 2017
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Why is it that our culture makes a big deal out of Christmas and pays relatively little attention to Easter?  Barbara Rainey has thoughts.

Barbara: The contrast between Christmas as a holiday and Easter is dramatic. Christmas is about a newborn baby, and who doesn’t love tiny babies?  It’s about angels / it’s about shepherds who ran to see the baby. It’s about gifts. It’s about kings. What’s not to love about Christmas?

Easter, on the other hand, is about betrayal / it’s about death—a brutal death. It’s about blood—a blood sacrifice—and we don’t like to talk about that. That sounds positively pagan—we don’t like any of that. It’s about the cross. None of it is pretty / none of it is beautiful, until you get to the resurrection.

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Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What can we do to draw more attention to a holiday that will otherwise be all about baby chicks and Easter eggs?  We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.

Dennis: Have I told you about what I’ve been reading in the mornings as I start my day?

Bob: Nope; you have not.

Dennis: I have a listener to the broadcast who has written a book. Actually, he didn’t write the book—he kind of pulled it together—it’s a harmony of the Gospels. He has ordered out the Gospels in sequential order—all the stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I had to go check something out, Bob. I wanted to see which story received more prominence in his harmony of the Gospels.

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 I compared the Christmas story with the Easter story. You know what I discovered?

Bob: I know what you discovered.

Dennis: Okay; what did I discover?

Bob: Well, first of all, there are only two of the four Gospels that share any of the historical details about Christmas—

Dennis: Right.

Bob: —and they take up a total of four chapters—

Dennis: Right.

Bob: —Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2. You get to the Holy Week—the whole half—half of the Gospel of John is about Holy Week.

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: Half of what John writes is about one week in Jesus' life.

Dennis: I just should have called you instead of checking it out. [Laughter]

Bob: When will you learn?  It’s been 25 years—I would think by now you would have this down.

Dennis: I'm sorry, Bob. [Laughter] I repent / I repent of my failure to call you, but here's what I found. I found—really, it’s probably double or maybe even more—triple, I don’t know—it depends on how much of the story you go back into.

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By the way, the name of the harmony of the Gospels is The Jesus Story. It really is a great way to just look at the life of Christ and watch how He encountered people.

I have to say—it's interesting that the story of Holy Week / of the resurrection is so prominent in the New Testament, but it's not prominent in our homes or in our churches in the way that it ought to be.

Bob: Your wife Barbara is joining us this week. Barbara, welcome back.

Barbara: Thanks Bob.

Bob: This is a passion point for you as well. If our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus was double or triple our celebration of His birthday, well maybe, we'd start to get close to the significance?

Barbara I think so. But it’s really quite astounding when you stop and think about it. Everything around us turns to Christmas by November 1st, if not months before.

Bob: Yes.

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Barbara: But for sure, by November 1st, decorations are up, music is playing everywhere, commercials are on TV about gifts. You can't escape it even if you wanted to. So for the next two months, it’s Christmas everywhere and everything.

I love Christmas / Christmas is fun; but as we were just talking about, there are only four chapters in the New Testament—in the Gospels—about Christ's birth; and yet, the preponderance of conversation, and verses, and stories about the Easter story—about His death and His resurrection—are just so much greater; and yet, our celebrations are nothing. We oftentimes don't even think about what we are going to do for Easter until: “Oh, my gosh! Good Friday is this week. What am I going to do? Wow. I don't know what to do!”

Bob: I find myself smiling in the Christmas season as I walk through department stores and heard Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Joy to the World. But you don't walk through department stores and hear When I Survey the Wondrous Cross or “Alas! and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?”

 

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The culture shies away from any acknowledgement of the death and resurrection—maybe because death is morbid; and maybe because the resurrection is so hard to imagine and to even believe, for some.

 

Barbara I think that's right. I think the contrast between Christmas, as a holiday, and Easter is dramatic. Christmas is about a newborn baby, and who doesn't love tiny babies? It's about angels / it's about shepherds who ran to see the baby. It's about gifts. It's about kings. What's not to love about Christmas? It's a fun, happy, positive story.

But Easter, on the other hand, is about betrayal / it's about death—a brutal death. It’s about blood—a blood sacrifice—and we don't like to talk about that. I mean, that sounds positively pagan. We don't like any of that. And it's about the cross. None of it is pretty / none of it is beautiful, until you get to the resurrection.

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And the resurrection—we're so used to knowing that Jesus rose from the dead—that we almost kind of yawn, which is just incomprehensible that we would treat it so casually; and yet, we do. I think that's a part of why Easter is just not celebrated as it should be. It’s why I'm kind of crazy for making a big deal out of Easter now; because I'm realizing that we have really, really missed, as believers, in what we emphasize.

Dennis: The better word is passionate. It is Passion Week, and Barbara is passionate about imploring moms and dads, husbands and wives, singles—it doesn't matter—find a way to truly celebrate what took place. It is our hope for all of eternity.

Bob: This week, you have been sharing some of the ideas that were shared with you when you invited listeners and people who have used Ever Thine Home® resources—some of the resources you've created for holidays—

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—you asked them to share with you: “What do you do to make Easter special in your home and in your family?”

Barbara Yes.

Bob: And you got some great ideas.

Barbara: I got some great ideas. I was really impressed with some of the ideas that families / moms and dads sent to us. And it was both moms and dads, too, by the way—it wasn't just women. The ideas that I want to share today really revolve around Holy Week and some things that we can do during those days.

The first one is focusing on the Last Supper, which we talked about this week—which was the Passover celebration. So on Passover, Jesus told His disciples to go prepare the Passover meal. That was going to be his last meal, and that's why we call it the Last Supper that he ate before he went to the cross.

This one family—my friend’s name is Beth—she said they always acted out the Passover meal. She said: “We gave our kids some encyclopedias,”—maybe they looked it up on Google; I don’t know—but they started by looking at the famous painting of the Last Supper, with Jesus and the disciples at that long table.

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She had her kids do some research on which disciple was which and where they were sitting in proximity to Jesus.

Then they got all dressed up. Mom and Dad got tables, and they created this long table. They had a very simple Passover meal. They researched what Jesus and His disciples probably ate. Then they figured out how to fix that. As a family, they reenacted the Last Supper together, with costumes and everything, as a way to celebrate and to remember what Jesus did when He had the Last Supper with the disciples.

I thought that was a genius idea. There are lots of these stories that you can act out with your kids. It’s a great way for the truth to become cemented in their hearts when they actually participate in reenacting what Jesus did during that last week.

Bob: You talked earlier this week about attending a Passover service at a local synagogue— 

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Barbara Yes.

.

Bob: —and the parallels between Passover and the resurrection because the Passover meal is a prophetic declaration of the coming Messiah.

Barbara: Right.

Bob: And there are elements of hidden bread that are a part of the Passover meal. There are the bitter herbs that are included as a part of the Passover meal. Of course, there is a lamb, which is always at the center piece of the Passover meal. If a family really wanted to get into this, the da Vinci painting is just a beginning. The Bible and the parallels between Passover and the account of the resurrection—it's loaded. You could spend a lot of time seeing how Jesus is the fulfillment of all that is celebrated during Passover.

Barbara Yes; you could.

Dennis: Barbara, I want you to remind our listeners of what you’ve said about a command of Christ to remember. Which one of the holidays do you think Christ has called us to remember?—Christmas or Easter?

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Barbara He asked us to remember His death. He asked us to remember His burial and resurrection. He commanded us—He said, "Remember this." By participating in some Easter celebratory activities with your family—whether it’s acting out different stories in the Bible, or having a great feast on Easter Sunday, which we're going to talk about tomorrow, or whatever you choose to do—you’re following the command of Christ to remember what He did for us.

Dennis: When we talk about Christmas—and I had to smile about this as I was preparing for today's broadcast earlier—I thought about Bob and his favorite movie that he likes to watch at Christmas / It's a Wonderful Life. And you got us watching it now—I love it. Bob—if we wanted him to, right now—could give you the entire dialogue of the movie from memory—he has seen it that many times. Here’s my question for you, Bob: “Do you have a movie that you and your family watched at Easter season on an annual basis?”

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Bob: You know, interestingly enough, we had a few. There were actually more than one that became a part of our Easter viewing; because back in the late ‘50s and the early ‘60s, in Hollywood, there was a resurgence of biblically-themed movies. The one we probably watched more often than any other was a movie called The Robe that had Richard Burton in it. It was the story of the centurion who found the robe that had been placed on Christ—after He had been beaten and lashed before He was hung on the cross—and how God used that artifact in his own life to bring him to faith.

There is a movie called Barabbas that I think Anthony Quinn was Barabbas, the one who had been set free; because you remember Pilate said: “Who do you want? Do you want Jesus or Barabbas?” They said, “Give us Barabbas.”

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So here is this murderer who gets set free. He doesn't know why he's been set free—he's guilty. This innocent guy is going—Barabbas is like, “What am I doing?” It torments him until he comes to faith in Christ. There were all kinds of Hollywood movies that pointed to the real gospel story. We used to try to dig them out and watch them. I can see the labeled VHS tapes that we had to watch those.

Dennis: A lot of our listeners don't know what you’re talking about there. [Laughter]

Barbara, in your survey you found a family, Tim and Darcy, who did this as well.

Barbara Yes; this is one of my favorite suggestions too. Tim and Darcy Kimmel are good friends of ours. What they did is—every Saturday, because a lot of churches have Good Friday services—and you may have something you do or don't do earlier in the week—but typically, on Saturday, there isn't much that happens. They chose, on Saturday, for their whole family to watch the Jesus film.

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They would get that out and they would play it together, as a family. They would sit and watch the entire thing up until the point when Jesus was put in the grave and the stone was rolled over the opening of the tomb. At that point, the screen on the movie goes

black anyway. That's a part of the design of the film—it goes totally dark, as if we were in the tomb, and it was totally black.

So Tim and Darcy then, at that moment, turn the film off, turn on the lights, and they talked about it. Then, as a family, they did communion together. When the kids were little, the parents would explain communion. They read the verses out of the Bible about communion, and they served their children communion. Then, as the kids got older, the kids participated—as they became teenagers—in leading the family in communion, reading the verses and serving the bread and the juice or the wine to the family members. They just wrote and said it was one of the best things they ever did, because it was a tradition—they did it every single year.

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He said, “It was so important to our celebration of Easter on Sunday morning to have watched and emotionally experienced what Jesus went through for us on the cross.” He said, “It always made such a difference in our Sunday morning experience.”

I loved that idea—I thought, “I wish I had known that, because I would have done that with our kids.” I didn't know it, and now you do. Maybe you can do that with your family and make Easter that much more powerful, because you have relived what Christ went through.

Bob: Well, they did turn the movie back on after they had done this; right?

Barbara That's right; I forgot. They turned the movie back on after communion and finished watching it.

Bob: So they got a chance to see the celebration of the resurrection as well.

Barbara Yes.

Bob: The movie that they watched, of course, is the movie that was actually created by Campus Crusade for Christ®, back in the ‘80s, I think.

Dennis: Right; right.

Bob: The most viewed movie of all time by people all around the globe. It's available on DVD. If our listeners are interested in watching it, we have copies in our FamilyLifeToday Resource Center; or information at how you can view it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com

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Barbara You know, I was thinking about this as I we were talking about what Tim and Darcy did with the Jesus film. I think Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter—we kind of don't know what to do with. I remember feeling that too—when we were raising our kids—like: “What do we do with the Saturday?” because it is kind of a pause between the two days.

When we created the resource for families called “Behold the Lamb,” it has a card to read each day during Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday, and then the last card you read on Resurrection Sunday, which is Easter Sunday. I just thought it was really good for me to think about: “What did the disciples feel on that Saturday? They saw Him on the cross. What were they feeling?” I think it was good for me to think about that experience.

I wrote about that in “Behold the Lamb” in the card that you read on Saturday.

 

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Here's what I wrote:

Very little is said in any of the Gospels about what happened on Saturday after Jesus died. It was the Sabbath day. Like every other Sabbath day, no work was done. People were in their homes, resting. Undoubtedly, they all were remembering what had happened the day before—the crucifixions, the earthquake, and the Temple curtain being torn. Certainly, nothing like this had ever happened before. The Light of the World was gone; darkness had returned.

Think about what the eleven disciples and the hundreds who had believed in Jesus were feeling that Sabbath Day—despair, depression, and grief unlike any other. What would you have thought?—that it was over?—that this was all in vain? Had you misunderstood?—that the miracles—what about the miracles? Jesus had said, "I am the true vine,” but now He was dead.

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They felt lifeless too. Their hearts were broken; their heads bewildered.

As a family, you might want to visualize the sadness and loss by covering all of your lights with black cloth or closing your window shades, blinds, or curtains for the day. You may choose not to turn on any lights this Saturday at all. Saturday was the day of waiting.

So it was just an attempt to help us put our heads and hearts where the disciples felt. I just can't even imagine the loss they felt. I mean, it is one thing to experience the loss of someone today, who believes in Christ, and we know we will see them again; but they had no idea that Jesus was going to rise from the dead. They were so consumed with their grief and loss that they probably couldn't even lift up their heads. That, therefore, makes the next morning / makes the resurrection all the more joyful, all the more beautiful, all the more wonderful; because they were so despairing.

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Then, the next day, when they discovered the tomb was empty, their astonishment, their wonder, their joy was that much greater.

Dennis: Well, think about what Christ had done—what they had seen—feeding of the 5,000 / probably closer to 10,000—maybe even more.

Barbara: More than once too.

Dennis: Yes; the teaching of Christ

Barbara: Stopping the wind on the lake—the Sea of Galilee

Dennis: Right;I mean, all of the things they had seen and experienced—and the New Testament says over and over again, "They were astonished [emphasis added] at His authority." Now, all of a sudden, it's gone! They hadn't gotten His promise that He was going to defeat death—that on the third day, He was going to come back. You can only imagine, out of this darkness, what Sunday truly felt like.

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Bob: When we were raising our kids, we would typically go to a Good Friday service on Friday night; and then, of course, we would go to Easter service and have Easter dinner afterwards. But that Saturday was, as you said, kind of a normal Saturday. It's typically a spring Saturday—those are nice days to get outside—it's warm / you're looking forward to it. There might be soccer games in the morning / might be shopping to do in the afternoon.

If you were doing it again, would you pull back on Saturday and say, “We're just not going to do all those things”; or would you let it be a normal day?

Barbara I think I would try to pull back. I think I would want to eliminate the soccer practice and some of those kinds of things. I think Saturday, though, can also be a day of preparation. I think you can do both.

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I think you can ponder the loss—think about the grief / think about what had happened—and yet, at the same time, I think it’s a great time to get ready for the next day. I think food can be prepared / the table can be set—I think it needs to be a day of preparation. I would just want the day to be centered around Easter celebrations and not ordinary life.

Dennis: I think about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—how they are really wrapped together—Christmas Eve / the anticipation of the incarnation and birth of Christ. I think of how we treat those two days.

I think what you’re encouraging families to do is look at the Easter weekend—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—and truly set them apart and make sure the message gets implanted in a child's heart and in your own heart to be refreshed with resurrection hope because, as we’ll talk about later on in a broadcast, the resurrection says that, if Christ can defeat death, there are some people, right now—in trouble, in difficulty, in dead situations—marriages/families—who need resurrection power.

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That's the Savior, who is alive today, and can offer that hope to them.

Bob: So maybe a family watching the Jesus film—or Ben Hur, which came out this past year—you would watch that together. Maybe doing something like that, as a family activity on Saturday, is just a way to say, “Let's remember what this whole weekend is about.”

Of course, the resources Barbara—you created to decorate homes during the Easter holiday—I really hope our listeners will go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, so they can see all that you have been working on; because it really doesn't work well to describe these resources on air. They are really works of art that need to be seen. Go to FamiyLifeToday.com to look at the Ever Thine Home® resources that Barbara Rainey has developed to help remind us of the resurrection in the weeks leading up to Easter and all year long.

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Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order these resources from us online; or if you'd prefer to order by phone, our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY.

You know, this is what differentiates Christianity from every other world religion—is our claim / our boast that Jesus is alive—that He died and was raised again. That’s not the claim of any other religion about their leader. We claim that Jesus is not just a prophet / not just a good teacher, but he is God in human flesh. We also believe that that reality changes everything in our lives—also in our marriages and families. At FamilyLife, our goal is to see every home become a godly home.

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We want to see husbands and wives and moms and dads anchored in Christ and leading their families with that as the foundation for everything that they do and every decision that they make. Our goal is to see every home become a godly home.

And we’re grateful for those of you who partner with us. You help us reach more people—not just here in the United States—but worldwide, FamilyLife has reach into more than a hundred countries around the world thanks, in part, to your support of this ministry.

If you can help with a donation today, we’d love to send you, as a thank-you gift, a set of our popular “Resurrection Eggs®,” designed to help parents and grandparents share the Easter story with preschool and school-age children. It’s our gift to you when you go online and donate at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. Or you can request a set of “Resurrection Eggs” when you mail your donation to FamilyLifeToday at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.

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Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about what the tone of your Easter celebration ought to be: “Is it somber? Is it happy? Is it a party? What should it feel like on Easter Sunday at your house?” We’ll talk more about that with Barbara Rainey. Hope you can be here for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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