Starting during my high school years, I would spend extra time reading the gospel accounts that correspond to each day of Passion Week as well as extra-biblical books that helped me focus on Christ. These are some of my favorites:
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper (available for free as a .pdf download)
- Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die by John Piper (also available as a free download)
- No Wonder They Call Him the Savior by Max Lucado (My former English students might remember this one, and you can read some of it for free, here.)
I know that it's easy to let life in general, as well as our Martha-style Easter celebrations eclipse the Mary kind. You know what I mean--entertaining guests for a big, beautiful meal; practicing and preparing for Passion Week church events; and putting together egg hunts and baskets for the kiddos--not to mention new coordinated family dress clothes fit for spring! Now, don't get me wrong, I still plan to enjoy many of those Martha-type tasks, but I want the quiet, Christ-focussed preparations to fuel such activities.
I think I was first challenged to consider Easter preparations seriously from Noel Piper (wife of prolific preacher/writer John Piper) in her book "Treasuring God in Our Traditions." Her series of 8 devotionals, entitled "Lenten Lights" can be read over the 8 weeks, or 8 days, preceding Easter. I think we'll make this a special focus after breakfast each day of Easter week, and instead of the candles, we'll use a Resurrection Garden (maybe we'll even do one with freshly planted grass!)
I might incorporate some of these other ideas by Noel Piper, as well. Maybe I'll even create a magnet activity like this one, so the boys can participate in the Passion Week story, somehow.
Last year, I also discovered that spring cleaning actually started as a Jewish tradition associated with Passover, which begins (and is gloriously fulfilled!) on Easter weekend. That started me thinking of cleaning as a part of my worship, which has helped me become more passionate and purposeful in it--even though I have a l-o-n-g way to go!
One of my goals for 2013 is to keep up with a weekly/monthly/quarterly cleaning schedule, and Crystal at Money Saving Mom has been my mentor in this regard, so it makes sense that I'm planning to retake her "4 Weeks to a More Organized Home" challenge as part of my Easter preparation, this year, starting next Monday, March 3. It's just 20 days, instead of 40 days of Lent, since it's just 5 days per week (see the downloadable schedule here.) Would you care to join me?
(I'll try to post next Sunday with this link, again, so we can receive the daily e-mails starting that Monday.)
Music is also a huge part of setting the mood for meditating on the victorious Resurrection of Christ, and I absolutely love how the Gettys' music focuses on this glorious reality. Already a huge fan of "In Christ Alone" and "The Power of the Cross," tears came to my eyes when I first heard them in person, singing "Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen, Indeed,"--just look at & listen to these rich lyrics!
Just like I have been trying to prepare for Sunday worship by having my weekly cleaning completed by Saturday evening and extending that by doing the 4-week challenge, I'm going to try to read and listen to only Christ-focussed material and music during these remaining weeks leading up to Easter.
In the midst of those efforts, I'm so thankful that it's not my faltering attempts that earn me favor with my Savior. In fact, this past week, I've failed miserably in many areas, including my cleaning goals and a restful, Christ-focused Sunday (today). I'm so thankful for God's grace--my key word for 2013!
Do you celebrate Lent? How does your family prepare for Easter? I'd love to read your own insights and traditions!