2 Apr 2018
Our family lived in India for 3 years. Our kids were 4, 6 and 9 when we arrived. We lived in Delhi in a wonderful, colourful, chaotic world of noise, and smells and lots of people. Delhi’s calendar was filled with Hindu festivals. Lots of them. Festivals happening all around us with idols, and incense, and drums beating all night. But come Easter each year, I told my kids – this is OUR festival!
In Delhi, we had no bunnies or Easter eggs to distract us, in fact in the very Hindu area where we lived there was simply no sign of Easter at all. If we were going to have an Easter in any shape or form, we were going to have to make it happen ourselves. We had to own our Easter.
Different years we tried different things. I baked my own hot cross buns (a bit tricky). I hand-made chocolate Easter eggs with moulds (even trickier). But always, we read the Easter story from the bible together. We read it slowly, spreading the story across the weekend, matching our readings to the days in which the story occurred, culminating in the resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. We sang worship songs together, and we played our worship CDs loudly (in true Indian festival style). We printed Easter crafts from the internet, and coloured them in.
We were celebrating our Christian festival, worshipping our God and King, the Lord Jesus.
In our first year in India I was taking my four year old to an Aussie/Kiwi playgroup. In this group, only myself and a Kiwi missionary friend were believers. For our gathering the week before Easter, I volunteered to run an Easter activity. I used a concept I had learned from another missionary family when we were living in Nepal. Easter gardens!
The Mums and pre-schoolers gathered together in the back yard of the house we were meeting in. I placed a tray on the ground and had the kids use sand and dirt to build a hill in the middle of the tray. They made “trees” from twigs and gathered some flowers to make a garden either side of the hill. I was able to tell the Easter story, as we worked together with our Easter Garden. We used string and sticks to make the crosses, pushing them into the top of the hill. We dug out a cave under the hill to make the grave and wrapped a pipe-cleaner Jesus in tissue strips and put him in the grave. We found a rock in the garden to cover the entrance. We counted how many days and nights went by before Jesus’ friends found the big stone rolled away on Easter morning. Jesus was alive!
That was a special Easter, having the opportunity to share the true story of Jesus in that very secular playgroup in the middle of a Hindu city. I was speaking that wondrous story to my own heart, to my own pre-schooler, and to my new friends and their children. Owning Easter and sharing it with others.
And now back here in Australia, I find that even though the word Easter is all about me, and there is a holiday for all, I am in the same predicament as I was in Delhi. I have to take a firm hold of Easter and make it my own, and only then am I able to share the true meaning of Easter with others. So, move over all you bunnies, baskets and bonnets. Whether we’re in Delhi or Dubbo, we believers are keeping Jesus front and centre of everything Easter. He is our Saviour, He is our King.