Making Preparations for Easter
About the Guest
It's almost Easter! Will you be ready spiritually? Barbara Rainey teams up with Tracy Lane to coach moms on how to make the most of Easter. Unlike Christmas, with all its hoopla and pizzazz, Easter comes and goes fairly unnoticed. Rainey reminds listeners of the significance of the cross and Easter, and explains the purpose of the Lenten season.
It’s almost Easter! Will you be ready spiritually? Barbara Rainey teams up with Tracy Lane to coach moms on how to make the most of Easter.
Making Preparations for Easter
Bob: Have you started thinking about Easter yet? Let’s be honest—most of us haven’t; but Barbara Rainey says, if we take our faith seriously, now’s the time to start thinking about celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
Barbara: I want my children to understand the Bible. I want them to understand how all of this was woven together by God to a grand culmination on Resurrection Day. So, even if they already knew some of it, I would bet that most middle school and high school kids don’t know it all. They may roll their eyes—our kids did! If you start when they’re younger, it’s a tradition that they will anticipate and they know it’s going to happen. They may roll their eyes and complain, but you want to teach your kids why Easter matters. So go for it!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 5th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
If the resurrection of Jesus is the most significant event in all of human history, then shouldn’t our preparation for the celebration of that event be something we take seriously? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I know we’re just into the new year, and people aren’t necessarily stopping to think, “When is Easter this year?” Most of us don’t stop and think, “When is Easter?” until the Thursday before Easter; and then we go, “Oh, it is Easter this weekend!” Right? [Laughter]
Dennis: And a lot of our listeners don’t participate in Lent; so they’re not even anticipating the 40 days leading up to Easter as well.
Dennis: But we’ve got somebody in the studio—not just somebody—[Laughter]—she is the second greatest love of my life, Barbara, for 45 years. Welcome back, Sweetheart.
Barbara: Thanks. I love doing radio with you guys—it’s fun.
Dennis: I like doing radio with you—
Barbara: It’s great, Bob.
Dennis: —and a compadre in crime. It’s, actually, not a crime—it’s—[Laughter]
Bob: I was going to say—
Barbara: Yes; right!
Bob: “What have you guys been up to?” [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, they’re just buddies, cooking up ways to help families celebrate the seasons—the seasons, especially, with a strong Christian message.
Tracy Lane joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, Tracy.
Tracy: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Bob: Barbara, we talked about the fact that most people don’t think about Easter until, maybe, the week before. You’ve been thinking about Easter for months now; haven’t you?
Barbara: Yes; I don’t really ever stop thinking about Easter, actually. I think about it after Easter: “Okay, what can we do next year?”—how can we elevate the perception / elevate the celebration—help people make more of Easter. Especially during last Christmas, I was thinking about it; because we spend so much money, and energy, and focus, and intentionality around Christmas—none of which is bad—but we give, by comparison, very little attention to Easter, as you said. So, I start thinking about it and start wondering, “How can we help people engage with this holiday, the most important holiday of the year, for those of us who believe in Christ?”
Dennis: Yes; and Barbara, I think there may be more than just a few men listening right now—husbands, dads, and perhaps grandfathers—who are listening in right now. They need to realize that this is not a holiday you delegate to your wife—you say: “This is your job! You take care of this.” I think men need to own this holiday and its message every bit as much as our wives do.
I have to tell you—I got this from Barbara. She poked, and prodded, and reminded me—and kept, not pestering me—but just said: “Look! It is the greatest holiday that we celebrate all year! It is salvation from God! It is redemption; it is hope—life after death. We ought to be communicating the truth of the gospel to our kids, and this is a great way to introduce your children to how Jesus Christ came to redeem them.”
Bob: So back when your kids were 5-15 years old—
Bob: —were both of you pretty intentional in the weeks leading up to Easter, to make it a focus?
Barbara: I wanted to be, but I wasn’t; because I didn’t know what to do. I remember thinking: “I want to do something about Easter. I want to make it more important.” I knew it was more important, but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have the bandwidth, because I was swamped with kids, to be creative and think of something.
You know, I tried a few things through the years; but I never landed on anything that really helped me teach my children why Easter was so important, other than what we just normally did by going to church, and Sunday school, and talking about it. We talked about it, but I wanted an activity. I wanted someone to say: “Here, read this to your kids,” “Here, do this with your children, and this will help them put the cross in context with the whole Bible and with God’s plan from the very beginning.”
Bob: And you were giving this charge to guys—were you in the game, back 25 or 30 years ago?
Dennis: No; no!
I wasn’t, and I was more of a spectator. I would really say—what Barbara has created here is a resource and a tool that gives moms and dads—grandparents / aunts and uncles—a way to celebrate Easter with your children—with you grandchildren / with your nieces and nephews—and to embed the message of this most holy of all holidays in the hearts of your children.
Bob: Tracy, you’ve got young kids at home. You work with Barbara on all of these resources that she’s working on. I guess you kind of have to be intentional about holidays with your kids; don’t you?—it’s part of the job.
Tracy: Yes; well, I’m thankful for the encouragement. I tell people a lot of times that I’m reminded what to do in my home when I go to work, which is great! Not everyone gets to do that, and so I take a lot of these ideas home and talk with my husband about them.
It’s funny; because when we were dating, I got him an Easter basket for our first Easter date. That was a big thing that my family did, growing up. He was shocked!
Dennis: The plastic grass and eggs and everything?
Tracy: Well, it actually had a new Easter shirt, which was tradition; but I kind of didn’t like all of the shirts he was wearing during our dating days. [Laughter]
Barbara: I love it!
Tracy: So I was like: “Here, honey. Here’s a new Easter shirt.” He was going to church with our family; so I needed him to look nice. [Laughter]
But I also wanted to get him in on the tradition—my family had these traditions. He was so surprised; because his family had never done anything, really, to celebrate Easter. That began the trajectory in our relationship of making Easter a big deal. He still talks about that to this day to our girls, “Mommy got me an Easter basket, and that told me this day is important.”
Dennis: I think back to my years of growing up. All I remember, in Southwest Missouri, was how cold it was. We would be outside looking in the grass for Easter eggs.
Bob: —for hard-boiled eggs; yes.
Dennis: Yes, exactly; and we found them for the next six months, you know, into the summer. [Laughter] But we didn’t really get to the core of the message. You went to church to get the core message.
Listen! This is a way for a mom and a dad—or grandparents—to take the message of Easter and to practically work your way through six different sessions, over six weeks, and reading stories that highlight what Easter is all about.
Bob: Yes; Barbara, we are about two months out from Easter.
Bob: Easter is on April 1st this year.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: Of course, that gives us lots of April Fools opportunities for Easter. [Laughter] We’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to handle all of that. With two months out, a lot of people are going, “I’ve got plenty of time to think about this.”
It has been the history of the Christian church that, in the weeks leading up to Easter, Christians do have an intense time of focus. That’s traditionally been called the Lenten period, but you’ve renamed it.
Barbara: Well, I kind of have renamed it. [Laughter] We’ll see if it sticks! I’ve decided that what we need to do is—we need to focus on Lent as another Advent in our faith. Advent means “coming.”
If we start on Lent, which starts this year, actually, on Valentine’s—so you’ve got Valentine’s Day to celebrate with your family, but it’s also the beginning of Lent. What we’re trying to explain to families today is: “If you start on Lent and work your way through this Easter banner and Advent calendar, you can teach your children why the cross is so important.”
What the content does—that you’ll read a little snippet of each day that will only take a couple of minutes of your time—as you read through this, every day for 40 days, your family is going to be anticipating the miracle of the cross in a way that they won’t, or wouldn’t, if you waited to do something to celebrate Easter until Monday or Tuesday before Easter. Observing Lent this way, as an Advent, allows your family to build anticipation and to begin to understand what Easter is actually all about.
Bob: So Easter Advent begins on Valentine’s Day this year—
Barbara: —on Valentine’s Day.
Bob: —all the way up to Easter. You’ve developed something that’s got two components. This resource is designed to accomplish what you wished you had as a young mom—
Bob: —a few minutes each day to begin building anticipation for the celebration of Easter.
Barbara: Yes; that’s right. It’s a banner that has a picture of a lamb; because Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, as John the Baptist proclaimed Him. There’s a lamb on one side, and on that same side there are 40 numbers written. It starts on one side—40 and goes 39, 38, 37, 36...all the way to 1. There’s a marker that comes with it—and kids like this kind of thing, just like they love counting down the days until Christmas. This is a way to involve your kids in counting down the days to Easter. You move the marker as you read a verse and answer two questions together / you move the marker every day, closer and closer to Easter.
As you go through the little calendar that comes with it—it starts in Genesis and goes all of the way to the New Testament.
It talks about who Jesus is and how He was predicted—how He was prophesied / how hints of Him were found throughout the Old Testament—so that, when He came, people would recognize Him. They would know, “Oh, this is the Messiah that we heard about all through our study of the Old Testament.” It’s a way to help you teach your kids who Jesus is and why He came, and it’s a way to build anticipation for Easter as you count down the days and move the marker together.
Bob: The banner hangs on the wall. The calendar is really a flip book.
Barbara: It’s a little flip calendar.
Bob: You put it on the breakfast room table—
Bob: —and it can sit there all through the holiday. Each day, you just flip over and you read what’s on the flip calendar for that day as you move the marker on the calendar on the wall. I guarantee you—you start doing this with your kids, and after two days of doing it, they’re the ones who are going to be saying—
Dennis: Yes; yes! That’s exactly right.
Barbara: That’s right. [Laughter]
Dennis: Here’s the thing—I just want to breathe a little bit of forgiveness into our listening audience. You don’t have to do all 40! Don’t be obsessed with missing a day. If you miss a day, you’ll get it next year; because your kids will want to pull this out for Easter after Easter after Easter. Maybe after you’ve done it for ten years, you will have been through all 40 by that point.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: And I think—honestly and I feel this—when we were doing Advent for Christmas, sometimes I didn’t want to start it; because I would be embarrassed by how few of the candles we had lit as we went through Advent. [Laughter] You know, the evidence is there—the wicks aren’t charred!
Bob: You didn’t want to start and then fail in the process.
Dennis: I didn’t; I didn’t. But this is a message that, even if you only made half of the days—
Barbara: —even if you didn’t make half of the days—my message to moms has always been: “Some is better than none. So start. Even if you only get ten of the forty days done, it’s better than nothing; because you can do it again next year.”
It’s a resource that you can use year after year after year. It can become a very important tradition with your family. Your kids will look forward to it. They may even fight over whose turn it is to move the marker. But don’t obsess over what you get done or don’t get done, because some is better than none.
Dennis: So, Tracy, do you suffer from this Advent guilt, as a young mom? Have you experienced that?
Tracy: You know, it’s interesting—we try to do a lot in our family with traditions. That’s how I was raised, and I am trying to pass those on to my children; but you kind of forget every place you need a tradition. Working with Barbara reminds me you can do so many more traditions than what you think.
You know, I have never pictured creating traditions around Lent, for example; but seeing this—it just puts it right into my lap. How can I refuse to do that? It makes it so easy. I, of course, want to elevate Easter for my children. I want them to anticipate the greatest miracle of all time. I haven’t really known how to do that.
Seeing this tells me exactly how—it lays it out for me. It gives me something to be excited about. I have a strategy, as a mom, where I can win. And it’s something that my kids can do quickly enough in the morning. We’re planning to do it in the car on the way to school as, kind of, our carpool line reading. We can fit that into the schedule that we have. With that, I really have no excuse not to do this, and to create excitement for my children, and pass our faith on during this critical time.
Dennis: It also sets dads up to be a winner too. I’ll never forget, back in the early years, when we started FamilyLife—it had to be in either the late ‘70s or early ‘80s—I had lunch with a businessman who ran a big company—it was very, very large. He just confessed to me, as I developed a friendship with him over a number of lunches—he said: “Dennis, I know how to lead my company to profits, but put me in front of my family—
—with those beady little eyes staring at me at the dinner table or the breakfast table—and I’m terrified. I don’t know what to do! I need help. I need tools.”
That’s why Barbara created the tool. It helps both moms and dads be effective in passing on the meaning for the holiday.
Bob: There are some folks who have mistakenly thought, over the years, that participation in a Lenten observance somehow earns you favor with God—that it’s a part of how you build merit for yourself.
Bob: So they’ve been very faithful to go through this, thinking, “I need to do this,” or “God will punish me if I don’t,” or “I’ll get bonus points if I do.” We need to understand that that’s never been God’s design.
Bob: All of our punishment has been taken, and all of our bonus points have been merited for us in what Christ has done—
Bob: —that’s the message of Easter.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: That’s the good news.
But there is benefit that does come to us as we participate in these kinds of spiritual disciplines. This period—between the traditional start of Lent / what you’re calling the Easter Advent and the Resurrection [Day]—to have our minds and hearts focused on what the Bible tells us about the work of Christ on the cross. Our participation in that kind of discipline will be good for our own soul—
Bob: —it’ll be good for our kids’ souls; won’t it?
Barbara: Yes; and I think parents—like Tracy was saying—I think parents want to be the ones to influence their kids for Christ. I wanted that—I wanted to introduce them to what I knew about Jesus. What this does is—it gives you an opportunity, every day, to teach your children that Jesus was foretold from the beginning. It gives you an opportunity to grow their faith as they encounter these details about God’s amazing plan for salvation.
It helps them begin to understand the problem of sin, which is why Jesus went to the cross. As you walk through these day-by-day little readings and little discussions together, you are teaching your children the Bible. You, as mom and dad, are being important in their lives. You’re influencing them / you’re helping them understand what is written in the Old Testament that talks about Jesus and why He had to go to the cross.
And that was what I was looking for, as a mom—I was looking for a way that I could teach my children about Jesus.
Dennis: And I want to demonstrate how simple this is. I’m going to crown Bob as the father of this small little family; okay? [Laughter]
Bob: “Y’all are going to have to behave! That’s rule number one; okay?!” [Laughter]
Barbara: What happens if we don’t?
Dennis: And I’m going to give Bob the Easter Advent for families—just the little flip chart. I want you to just take us through Ash Wednesday, Day 40.
Barbara: Do we just listen, or can we snicker and roll our eyes like kids?
Dennis: Oh, we’ll be kids. We’ve got to be kids! [Laughter]
Guess what kind of kid I’m going to be?! [Laughter]
Bob: Yes; well, you may get dismissed and sent to your room depending on how this goes. [Laughter]
So, Day 40 is the beginning of Lent. On the calendar, we would set our marker at
Day 40; because we’re counting down. This is not Day 1 / this is Day 40.
Barbara: Day 40.
Bob: It is a countdown.
Dennis: “Daddy! How long is this going to last?”
Bob: “As long as it takes. You just sit there and be quiet; okay?”
So it begins with a short story—it says:
The first clues about Jesus the Messiah are found in the beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in a perfect place. They were perfect people who talked freely with a perfect God. What do you imagine that was like? Probably, it was just like God had planned it, full of beauty and trust.
I might stop here and just say to the kids, “What do you think it would be like to live in a perfect place with perfect people?”—so—“Dennis, what do you think that would be like?”
Dennis: “There would be perfect peace in our family.”
Dennis: Imagine that!
Bob: “Yes; not like what we have today; right?”
Dennis: That’s right!
Barbara: “Yes; and my sister wouldn’t take my things and not bring them back.”
“Tracy, what would it be like to live in a perfect place with perfect people?”
Tracy: “You’d let me eat candy for breakfast.”
Bob: “No, because that wouldn’t be what’s best for you.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Are you saying God didn’t make candy?!
Bob: God made candy, but He rationed it; okay? [Laughter]
Now, when Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed.
And, if I’m reading through this, I’m going to stop here and say, “When we talk about Adam and Eve sinning, we’re talking about them saying, ‘I want to live life my way, not God’s way.’ That’s what sinning is—it’s deciding, ‘I’m in charge of my life, rather than God being in charge of my life.’
When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed forever. For the first time, they started accusing God and each other. They hid. They lied. They were afraid. Have you ever done something you knew was wrong, and it made you want to hide or be afraid? Have you ever lied about what you did?
Dennis: “Barbara has!” [Laughter]
Bob: “I’m asking if you’ve ever done that, Dennis.”
Barbara: “The answer is, ‘Yes’; I’ll admit it! [Laughter]
Bob: “And we all know you have. We have the evidence.” [Laughter]
God, in all His love, knew this couple He created needed to be rescued. He knew they couldn’t fix the brokenness in their lives on their own. Their sin had to be paid for. Their relationship with God and each other needed fixing. So, this week, we’re going to look at one verse every day to help us understand how God planned to save us through His rescuer, Jesus.
That’s the introduction to this whole project.
Bob: Now we get to Day 40, which says:
Romans 3:23: “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”
And there are questions here:
What do you think “fall short of the glory of God” means?
“Barbara, what do you think?”
Barbara: “That’s a hard question.”
Bob: “That is a hard question.”
Dennis: “What’s the glory of God?”
Bob: So, at this point, moms and dads go, “Okay; I don’t know the answer to that!”
[Laughter] So what do they do, Dennis?
Dennis: Honestly, it’s okay if you don’t know the answer!
Find somebody who does; okay?
Barbara: Well, if you look ahead, the next question helps you illustrate that for your kids.
Bob: It says:
Parent, try asking your kids to jump to a place that you know is beyond their ability. Show how everyone falls short of the line, no matter how good at jumping each person is.
So, “falling short” is—it’s a little project you can do.
Bob: Say: “Let’s jump from the living room into the dining room. Everybody’s going to give that a try.” Nobody makes it to the dining room from the living room, unless you’re in an apartment. Some people may have to go out in the street.
Dennis: “Oh, I can! I get right there by the door at the edge of the dining room to jump into the living room.”
Bob: “No; I’m going to set the lines for each one.”
Dennis: “Oh, okay.”
Bob: “You will fall short; and we’ll talk about how, when it comes to pleasing God, our lives fall short.”
So, there’s an activity you can do here. Again, all of this may take a total of five minutes.
Dennis: That’s what it just took—
Dennis: —I watched the clock. It’s been about six minutes, with all of the joking around we’ve done. Frankly, it may go a little bit longer; but if they’re asking questions, that’s what you want!
Barbara: That is what you want—you want it to be interactive. You want to engage your kids in thinking about God—and Who He is and what He expects from us. Not having the answer is okay, as a parent, because there are a lot of things I don’t understand. There are a lot of questions I could never answer for my kids. But it is okay; and if we point them to God and say: “We don’t understand everything, but God does. What He has done for us is good. We’re going to continue reading this tomorrow, and maybe we’ll know the answer by the end of the week.”
Having the conversation is what’s so important. That’s what parents, I think, long for—is: “How do I engage my kids in meaningful conversations about spiritual things?” That’s exactly what that dad was asking you, years ago: “How do I do this? How do I talk to my kids about God?”
Bob: I know it feels like we’re still a long way away from Easter, but the Lenten season / Easter Advent starts next week. Now is a great time for us to start making preparations for how we’re going to emphasize the Resurrection during this season.
Again, there are resources available that you’ve been working on. Listeners can go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com to see the Messiah Mystery kit that you’ve put together and the Easter Banner that you’ve created / other resources that we have. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on these resources. You can order them from us, online, if you’d like; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order; or if you have any questions about the resources that Barbara has been working on for Easter and for the Lenten season. Again, our website: FamilyLifeToday.com; and our toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Don’t forget—we’ve got an event that is coming up in April that you or your church may want to participate in. It is our Blended and Blessed™ one-day livestreamed event that we’re going to be hosting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It’s going to be viewed by folks in churches and in living rooms all across the country this spring. The date is April 21st.
I mention it because you or your church may want to invite a group and make this a part of your church’s ministry. I also mention it because I want those of you who support this ministry to know, when you make a donation, you’re helping us cover the cost for events like this, along with the cost of FamilyLife Today being heard on this local radio station, day in and day out.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve made a donation, or if you’re a regular listener and you’ve never donated, consider making a donation today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. You can also mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. Again, your donations are going to make it possible for more people to more regularly be exposed to God’s truth about marriage and family.
That’s our mission, here, at FamilyLife®; and we appreciate those of you who partner in that mission with us.
And we hope you’ll join us back again tomorrow. We’re going to continue talking about how we can set our hearts and our minds on the upcoming celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and how we can encourage our children and, maybe, even our neighbors to be alert to that celebration as well. We’ll talk with Barbara Rainey and Tracy Lane about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us 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.
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