This is what Easter usually looks like in our house. We dye eggs (our five kids each dye at least a dozen, which means, well, you can do the math). I fill baskets, usually last minute (as in the night before Easter). I make food. I exert way too much effort to find matching clothing for the seven of us. We eat candy. We go on egg hunts. We talk about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. I try to make sure said matching outfits stay clean for the duration of a two-hour church service—which is a feat with five kids. I scramble to take a picture documenting that we actually wore the matching clothes. We have a family dinner with my entire family. We have another family dinner with my husband’s entire family. I try to stay sane. When Sunday night rolls around, when it’s all over, this mama usually feels done. I’ve also felt a little bit like, “That’s it? Easter is over?” Discussing its meaning had been just shoved in there, in the middle of all the other stuff, and a time that should have been really special and sacred just felt tired and washed out.
I am a firm believer that God knows what we need before we do, and He knows the best ways to bring us there. He knew that I needed a fresh way to look at Easter and to give my family a new way to celebrate—which has really existed all along, but I hadn’t paid much attention. God opened my eyes to the significance of taking part in Passover. Of me taking part in Passover, I should say. It’s not that I ever felt opposed to learning about it, it’s just that I was kind of ignorant. I figured that Passover was really for Jewish people or for Messianic Jews—but not for me, as I don’t fit into either of those categories. I didn’t realize what a great tool it is, as a tangible way to teach my children the continuity of scripture. Scripture is not a collection of “old” and “new” stories; it is an account of God’s great, continuous love story to humanity, told across the ages. It has always been about the love of God, His pursuit of us, and His power over the enemy—albeit an actual Pharaoh or devices of the enemy that try to pharaoh over our lives today.
For me, this journey began last year—right around Eastertime— with a great urgency to learn about Passover and teach it to my children. The timing made sense, as the Christian Easter holiday and Jewish Passover fall very close to each other. Additionally, the language which describes these holidays has a deep connectedness.1 “English and German are in the minority of languages that use a form of the word Easter…to mark the holiday. Elsewhere, the observance is framed in Latin pascha, which in turn is derived from the Hebrew pesach, meaning of or associated with Passover.”2
This year, in the weeks leading up to Passover, my husband felt led to read the book of Exodus to us, as a family. I also sensed in my spirit a longing to bring the Passover feast into our home—as best as I could. Traditionally, “a Jewish home or community service including a ceremonial dinner in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt” is held on the first (or first and second) night(s) of Passover.3 This tradition is called a seder. I found a great seder-for-kids script from Jennifer Dukes Lee entitled, “A Messianic Passover Seder for Families with Children.”4 This script offers a kid-friendly explanation as to why we, as Christians, are able to join in this celebration. Simply put, it is a way to both remember God’s promises and take part in something that Jesus himself practiced.
Before our dinner, the children painted a wooden board using fake hyssop leaves dipped in red paint, to signify the Israelites putting the lamb’s blood on the doorposts and lentels of their houses to protect the first born of each house from death. We talked about how this occurrence foreshadowed what Jesus—the Lamb of God—would do; shed His blood to save us from death. As we approached our table, set with my best (and only) table cloth and fancy wine glasses, my seven year old daughter said, “This looks so pretty!” My nine year old daughter bounced back, “You never decorate like this for other parties.” And that’s when it struck me. No, we don’t usually get fancy—especially around food. (Let’s be real, I have five kids.) But we did get fancy that night, and it was special. And they will remember that.
After our meal, I looked at the white table cloth spread out with the evening’s feast—bits of roasted lamb and matzo crumbs, a bowl of charoset , drips of grape juice on the white table cloth, remnants of parsley and the scent of horseradish. I sat, observed, and took it all in, reflecting on the deliverance of God’s people from Egypt and on my own deliverance from the things that enslave me. I sensed such a great peace within my spirit that night, and such a sense of freedom within, it was as if I could have been swept up to heaven in that very moment. We had shared something important as a family that night as we partook in one of the Lord’s Feasts. We celebrated with Him. And that was what just what I needed, a celebration to remind me of His great love, that goes far beyond painted eggs, jelly beans, and the seven of us wearing matching outfits. His presence is so real, so tangible—sometimes I just need a gentle reminder to get caught up in it.
The remainder of the weekend was filled with the normal hustle and bustle that I’ve grown accustomed to, but I didn’t feel the stress, the weight. It felt peaceful and light inside, as my heart was in the right place—it was with Him. For that, I am truly thankful. I trust that the Lord will direct you in your walk to come closer to Him, in a way that will best minister to your heart, in a way that will overtake you. Let Him continue to pursue you and unfold His great love story in your life. He truly is faithful.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain undeniable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is included in The Declaration of Independence (US 1776.)”
The truth is the world got it wrong. Something that God quickly began to teach me as I attempted to watch the well-known movie The Pursuit of Happiness. As we embark on what is easily the most hostile election year to date, it is evident we need to pursue what Jesus instructed from the first day of his ministry. We need to pursue the Kingdom of God.
As Christians, too often we associate ourselves and our circumstances with the pursuit of things that make us happy or feel good. This takes us away from the purpose of God in our lives. Happiness by definition comes from the root word, hap – which means luck, chance, or fortune. This sets the way to create an idol in our lives, one that causes us to focus on the pleasures of life and the circumstances that surround them. Take note this is something God clearly speaks about in Isaiah 65:8-12. This is even true when it comes to the election and voting for a person who makes you feel good, or even secure and happy, not necessarily what lines up with the will of God.
Does that mean that God’s will is for us to never be happy? By no means. Quite the opposite in fact. God wants us to be happy. Jesus preaches it very much so in Matt 5:3-12 commonly known as the beatitudes. Take note, however, this sermon is preached as characteristics for those who have entered into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). ‘Blessed’ in Greek means happy and in Aramaic means prosperous. What does that mean for us? It means that in order to be really happy (blessed), we need to pursue God and His Kingdom. Deeper than that, seeking God, staying in His will, produces joy, and that is something that is not dependent on circumstances, it is indwelling and solely dependent upon God.