Want to know something about me?
I’m not a fan of the Easter bunny.
As a Children’s Ministry Director, I do not bring the Easter bunny into any event we do. I just don’t believe that my job is to teach the kids at church about a fake bunny, or to decorate our halls with cute little Easter bunnies (or chicks for that matter). I can’t bring myself to do it.
Just the other day a friend sent me a text telling me she saw a sign that reminded her of me and my dislike of the Easter bunny. It said, “Silly rabbit…Easter is for Jesus!” I love that sign! Maybe I need to get one to hang up at church!
I believe in teaching my own kids and the kids in my church about the true meaning of Easter, which is Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. It’s not about some cute bunny hopping into our houses while we sleep to leave a basket of candy. It’s about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So where did the Easter bunny come from? I decided to look up the origin of the Easter bunny, just to make sure I wasn’t missing something and that it really did have some religious meaning. It doesn’t. None at all. Every site I visited said that it was a folklore, a legend that dates back to the Germans in the 15th Century. Much like with Santa, kids would leave out carrots hoping that the Easter bunny would replace it with candy. The Easter bunny has no religious meaning at all.
Every year at our church we hold a family Easter event. It always includes an egg hunt and some type of fun activities for the kids. Several years ago, our church did a Walk with Jesus event. Group Publishing created an awesome family event for Easter that centers on the last week of Jesus’ life. If you want to know more about it, check out this link: Walk With Jesus
We began our time together with a traditional egg hunt. That year, though, I decided not to stuff the eggs. Not just for the easiness of it (although that was an added bonus), but because I wanted the kids to search for eggs with no candy inside so they could connect that with the empty tomb of Jesus. I was a little worried we would have kids that would cry because there was no candy. However, I was pleasantly surprised because no children cried or complained. When I asked what the empty egg might represent, they knew it was the empty tomb! That was so awesome! I did tell them they could trade in their eggs at the Resurrection station for a big bag of candy, though. They were all very excited about that!
After the egg hunt, families rotated to our five stations: Palm Sunday, The Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, Good Friday and the Resurrection. At each station, families read a card together and did whatever it asked them to do. At the Palm Sunday station, they decorated palms and waved them shouting “Hosanna!” At the Last Supper station, they ate bread and washed each other’s feet. At the Garden of Gethsemane station, families talked about how when Jesus faced a difficult situation he prayed to God about it. Then they took a cut-out of a hand and wrote on it something they needed God’s help with and taped it on the wall. At the Good Friday station, families tasted lemons (sour) and pineapples (sweet) and discussed how the death of Jesus was both sour and sweet. At the Resurrection station, families took a piece of dissolving paper and wrote on it something they needed to ask God to forgive them for. Then they put those in a cup, poured water in it, stirred it and watched the paper disappear. Just like God does with our sins! The Walk with Jesus was an amazing event for the families of our church!
When I teach and lead our kids at church, this is what I want them to remember about Easter. I want them to see how much Jesus loved them that He was willing to sacrifice His own life so that we could be forgiven of our sins and can live forever with Him in heaven. I don’t want kids to remember that Mrs. Vanessa brought in an Easter bunny that hopped around and took pictures with us and gave us candy. I want them to remember that Jesus SAVES and that He is ALIVE!
Sometimes I wonder if kids really get it. Do they really understand what Easter is about? Several years ago, a parent emailed me a video she took of her 6-year-old daughter. In this video she was asking her daughter what Easter is and why we celebrate it. This little girl told about Jesus, how he died for us, how he forgives us, and how he lives in heaven, and that one day we’ll live in heaven too. That video absolutely made my day. It brought encouragement to me. The mother said this to me: “In case you ever wonder, you are helping shape the future of this church and leading children to their eternity with Christ.” I so needed to hear that! It helped me to know that what I am doing to teach kids about Easter and about Jesus is working. They understand!
Easter to me is not about a bunny. It’s about the cross. It’s about Jesus’ love for us and His willingness to give up His life for ours. It’s about the sacrifice He made so we could live forever with Him. Aren’t you so grateful for His sacrifice? I am! And because of that, I am excited to share that with the kids at church and really…with anyone! Go out today and share Jesus with someone!
What traditions in your church or your family do you do that take the focus off the Easter bunny and center on Jesus Christ? I would love to hear from you!
This article originally appeared here.