I’m sitting in my sons’ bedroom on Palm Sunday evening. I doubt I’ll be out of here anytime soon as with clocks going forward and a fateful nap in the car this afternoon they are both restless.
We are about to head into Holy Week. A week that is ingrained in my brain as a special one, a week to stop and slow down time. A week to get together with others on this journey of faith thing and remember. A week to remember that other week just over 2000 years ago which changed the course of history and gave us hope in the face of a dark and disturbing world.
It’s a week where I want to bathe in the certainties of faith, where I want to remember the old old story and come again to the wonder of the cross. A week where I want my boys to grasp something of the crazy world of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This week takes me back to my childhood where I first heard of a man who was willing to die so I could be forgiven, made new, restored and made whole. This week reminds me of the greater wider understanding I gained of the cross over my 20s as I repeated the ritual of remembering. This week reminds me of the times more recently I’ve needed to come to this story like a child and feel the emotional weight of it once more.
When I was growing up I remember loving books about Haffertee Hamster (he was a soft toy hamster who lived with a Christian family and gradually found out about Jesus through Christmas and Easter with them…bear with me… it was the 80s…). I discovered some again in a charity shop recently and the boys have been enjoying them. Haffertee’s first Easter is an emotional read. From Palm Sunday to the empty tomb the little hamster tries to wrap his head around the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a good read. No really. I think it’s where I learnt the emotional impact of the cross, the sadness of what happened and the wonder of resurrection joy. Haffertee learns it through the death and putting back together of one of his soft toy friends Howl Owl. I recently wept my way through the chapter where he dies (torn apart by birds in the garden apparently…) and the very appropriate sadness as the family acknowledge that God doesn’t seem very nice that night and no one can manage to pray. The next day the mother of the family has put the owl back together (she made it, she could make it again.. see where this rather clumsy illustration is going?!) and there is joy at seeing their friend again.
As I read it I had memories of reading this book each Easter and grasping how horrific Jesus’ friends and family must have found those few days. It gave those events more meaning and feeling than just the bible story could.
Anyway. I can’t really appreciate enough that this story (the Jesus one, not the Haffertee one..) is written like a thread of gold throughout my life. Life with God feels very different to 5 or 10 or 15 years ago but this story remains the same, the anchor point for how I can carry on in this world.
With that in mind I’ve been pondering how I can make it special for my boys too. A couple of years ago in a fit of enthusiasm I tried resurrection eggs (12 eggs that have a symbol and a passage in them from the death of Jesus) clearly my 3 year old wasn’t quite ready for the long passages each day and we gave up on them. This year the now 5 year old is ready for a spot of reading each day and I’ve created a more manageable 8 eggs to open from today until Easter Sunday. I’ve also put slightly different passages in mine.
We go from Palm Sunday (with donkey and lego palm branch in the egg), to Jesus washing the disciples feet (picture of the feet in the egg), to the meal in the upper room (a cup and bread inside), to the garden of gethsemane (a picture of praying hands), to Jesus being told he will die (picture of a crown of thorns), to the curtain torn (a piece of cloth ready to be torn from top to bottom), to his death (a cross), the tomb (a stone) and then the final empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning (an empty egg with instructions as to where to find their celebration chocolate ones). We’ll be reading the stories from the various books about Easter that we have around the house and the Jesus Story Book Bible.
This morning it went well, our 3 year old loved the short story and our eldest enjoyed reading what was in the egg and the instructions as to where to find the story.
I’m looking forward to some time each morning this week to remember. I’m also glad our church does Easter very well. We have a Passover meal on Tuesday a Good Friday meditation on Friday evening and breakfast on the beach on Sunday morning.
I always loved Easter more than Christmas when I grew up, my greed always tainted Christmas as I struggled with wanting more and more presents. Easter seemed simple, more profound, more about the wonder of being loved enough to be worth dying for. More about the broken mess of this sad world getting made new and given hope today.
I love Easter. I love the big fat certain joy it brings to my heart.
I’ll probably be blogging more about that this week. Come along for the ride if you like.