Easter is about Jesus not Chocolate.
That’s what I spent weeks trying to teach my 3 year old daughter. On Easter morning, after the traditional Easter Egg hunt, I grabbed the video camera for her to share my profound teaching with the world.
I pointed the camera at her beaming face. She looked up at me in her little Easter dress eager to speak to the world. Her hands behind her back, she bounced on her toes waiting for me to record. “Christina, what is Easter about?” She thrust two sticky brown hands at the camera, gave a huge smile and yelled…
I laughed and shook my head. The taste of chocolate had eradicated weeks of daily indoctrination. I realized that there was going to a be a competition between the Easter Bunny and the Resurrected Christ. More seriously, with the power of popular culture, I was wondering how was I going to put Jesus ahead of all the other things that are so much easier to love? If I couldn’t make even this simple truth stick how was I going to guide her through adolescence?!
Now that she’s a young adult,I can rejoice that she knows Jesus personally. I can also look back at some of the ways that we tried to make following Jesus sweet, instead of like some foul, disgusting medicine to swallow. Here’s the first:
1. Communicate in Tones of Love
There are various ways to teach a teen about God. Some can be severe, critical, and based on fear. Some teens grow up with constant criticism, guilt and the specter of hell beneath their feet. This approach might say “I am not going to confuse my kid with chocolate and nonsense about an Easter bunny.” This approach can be both restrictive and cold.
Another approach works with the culture rather than completely rejecting it. It takes traditions and redeems them. It might go something like this. Jesus is alive! I am so happy! Let’s eat chocolate! (I’m hoping it’s on the menu when we get to heaven) 🙂
2. Create Warm Loving Memories
If family gatherings are tense, church is unpleasant, and teens are ignored, the connection they will have with Easter, Christmas, God himself will be negative. Their Christian heritage will be something that they will want to get away from. When they get old enough to choose for themselves they will choose to avoid those bad experiences and the God who created them.
By contrast, if Easter, Christmas, church and home fellowships are connected with great food, fun, and feelings of acceptance, teens will continue to long for these, even if at some point they stray from the faith.
If you look at the celebration of the Passover in the scriptures you will note that the whole family participated. Modern Jews even incorporate some fun in the Seder meal with the search for the Afikomen (a half matzo hidden during the meal to be eaten as dessert). The kids search for this treat and the winner gets something extra special.
Make Easter Joy Sweet as Chocolate
It’s a sin to make the Christian life seem like bitter medicine!
Think of ways to make Easter a day a celebration. Make it warm and fun. Feast and rejoice. always drawing the attention to the fact that these good times come as a result of Jesus. More than anything, help teens feel included and provide them with memories of the goodness of God that they will keep close to their heart, pass on to their kids, and remember in every stage of their development.