I grew up thinking Lent was what you pulled out of the dryer between loads. The churches we attended in my early years never mentioned this practice of preparing for Easter by fasting and praying. In my early twenties, I told a Catholic co-worker she had a little something on her forehead. I wondered how she could miss that big black smudge across the top of her head. It was Ash Wednesday. Cue the red cheeks, girls. I was so embarrassed.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others. (umc.org)
I don’t attend a Lent-observing church today. My Ash Wednesdays come and go with only a passing thought that maybe this year I should do something to observe Lent. I get caught up in the hustle and bustle around the holiday—extra church services, extra nursery shifts, egg hunts, and new shoes. Before I know it, I am sitting on the couch eating a glitter-covered egg, wondering how I missed the death, burial, and resurrection of my Savior.
For today’s #FridayFive, I am taking the time to prepare my heart for Easter. I refuse to let it be about chocolate bunnies and matching outfits. I want to draw near to the cross, to acknowledge my sin, rejoice in my redemption, and worship my risen Savior.
Five Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Easter
Set aside some time to watch the drama unfold.
The story of Easter is compelling. Movies, musicals, and plays recount the events with vivid images and moving monologs. Plan a night to watch an Easter-themed movie such as The Passion of the Christ, Risen, or The Robe. If a local church presents a Passion play, take the family. Immerse yourself in the story and allow your heart to break.
Leviticus? Yes! I am reading Leviticus with First5 this month. First5 girls are learning this is not a dry and boring book. As I read about the sacrifices God required to cover the sins of His people, I am confronted with the nonchalant view of my own sin as well as the incredible gift of Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice. If you are intimidated by Leviticus (as I am), download the First5 app and read along with us.
If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, though he did not know it, then realizes his guilt, he shall bear his iniquity. (Lev. 5:17, ESV)
Share the story.
One of the best ways to connect your heart to the Easter message of hope is to share the story. Finding ways to tell your children about the gift of Easter can help you rediscover the essential story of God’s grace. Resurrection Eggs provide a hands-on approach to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Immerse yourself in the days of Christ.
I love historical fiction, especially biblical historical fiction. It helps me understand the cultural context and bring scripture to life. While these are just human words wrapped around inspired text, it often encourages me toward godliness (Heb. 10:24). Some of my favorites for the Easter season are The Advocate (Randy Singer), Memoirs of Pontius Pilate (James R. Mills), and Jesus: The Greatest Life of All (Charles Swindoll) (not fiction, but so good!).
Bonus: The Last Sin Eater (Francine Rivers) is historical fiction, but set in the days of 1850 Appalachia. It will give you an incredible appreciation for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Not a reader? Watch the movie!
Get still and quiet.
Where do you interact with God best? In the early morning, curled up with a cup of coffee and a journal. Or maybe on a late afternoon walk with the sun sinking low behind the trees. All of the activities listed above are a great way to connect you to the heart of Easter, but nothing compares to allowing the Holy Spirit to draw you in. In these quiet moments, reflect on the seriousness of your sin, the grace and mercy of God, and the glory of our risen Lord.
#FridayFive Link Up
How will you prepare your heart for Easter? What are some of your Easter traditions? Please share in the comments or link up your Easter posts using the button below.
Come back next week to share reflections from your favorite Bible stories.
Photo credit: Devan Freeman via Unsplash.
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