~ a remembrance of Good Friday 2012 ~
Easter continues to evolve for our family.
You guys know how I feel about holidays. I was the young wife who innocently hung skeleton lanterns in the apartment window of our seminary that had a no-Halloween policy. I start planning for Christmas the day after Halloween. I painted my house white so it would match every season. I have a huge tub of supplies and decorations for each major holiday of the year…
And so I absolutely adore Easter as we know it in America. The eggs…the pastel colors…the celebration of Springtime…the candy…the baskets…bunnies and chicks and soft little critters…pretty dresses…bonnets…pearls…jello salads with mystery ingredients…
I. LOVE. IT.
If you remember, though, this type of Easter had begun to encroach on our Resurrection morning in the peskiest of ways and so I swiftly moved it to Saturday.
We’ll observe Good Friday, I thought to myself, and then while we’re waiting on Jesus to raise from the dead, we’ll have some Fake Easter fun!
But after this year’s monumental observance of Good Friday, I’m afraid that even more Easter change is a’coming next year.
We started the day by making the dough for Hot Cross Buns. The children loved helping me sprinkle the yeast and flour on our mixture of scalded milk, butter and oil, and then coming back an hour later to see how it had magically risen. As I prepared this very homemade and simple treat for my family, I thought about the cross….
I thought, especially, about the friends of Jesus who really had NO idea who He really was and what was really about to happen to their world.
I thought about my failings and how I would probably have done worse things than betray Him on the morning of His death…I would probably have never followed to begin with.
I thought about how I haven’t done one silly piddly little thing to deserve the life I’ve been blessed with.
I thought about the unmerited grace and kindness of the Creator of the universe who could snuff my life out in an instant but instead lets me make Hot Cross buns on a beautiful Spring day with all the windows and doors open…
As the morning ticked by, Mr. Gore and I off-handedly discussed what traditions we might employ to help our children (and us) really observe Good Friday in the future. As the mother of preschoolers, I spend a lot of time thinking about our family holidays and rituals, antsy to formulate our traditions now before these little birdies grow up and fly the coop.
“We could wear black all day…” I suggested, thinking back to old traditions of mourning and observing the memories of lost loved ones. My mind was thinking ahead to next year and how we could make this happen, wondering whether or not Janie and Jack would have any pretty black dresses for my girls…they have a wedding line…maybe by next year they would have a funeral line! (What?! One never knows…)
“Yeah…” Mr. Gore murmured, and then abruptly stood up and yelled outside “Hey kids! We’re going to wear black ALL day to help us remember that Jesus died on the cross for us today.”
“Today?” I thought skeptically, “this wasn’t really in my holiday planner…“, but seeing my children’s immediate excitement over the idea, I threw my uppity plans out the window and bounded up the stairs to see what we could find.
Black jersey shorts for Gideon and a black tee-ball t-shirt. A black dress for Rebekah with white polka dots. Mr. Gore had a black t-shirt and navy blue shorts. And, lucky me, my favorite lounging outfit (that Mr. Gore has lovingly/hatefully dubbed my “ninja costume”) made of flowy bamboo fabric is black from neck to ankle.
We shed our normal clothes and dressed in black, every one of us.
It is absolutely unreal what this simple observance did to make Good Friday actually mean something to us. The children were so willing to wear these clothes for Jesus – as we dressed them, it was obvious that, while there was a measure of fun and/or novelty to our actions, it actually symbolized something to them. And for me…my gosh, everytime I looked down and saw the black of my outfit, I thought of Him. Everytime I walked outside and worried that the neighbors would think I was a slob in my black stretch clothes, I thought of Him. Everytime I spilled baking ingredients on my shirt and saw the white all-purpose flour starkly contrasting the color of my clothes, I thought of Him.
How simple it is to turn our thoughts toward heavenly things.
And it struck me what great responsibility there is in the choosing of our traditions. With a word, I have the power to make our Christian holidays about Christ, or about…other stuff. If my kids expect sugar and candy and gifts and money and treats and fancy clothes and toys and consumption on every holiday, it will be because I – the holiday-maker – have made much of those things.
And I was struck even harder by how happily and easily my children embraced the beauty of a simple and homespun Good Friday at home. In their black clothes, my 2-year old and a 5-year old sat on a miniature picnic table in our office and listened to a beautiful version of “At the Cross” over and over and over again until they had it memorized.
And guess what? The song wasn’t performed by a goofy animal band.
It didn’t have motions.
It wasn’t even sung by a children’s choir.
And guess what else? I didn’t make them listen to it.
I didn’t make them memorize it.
They weren’t rolling around bored on the floor by an ancient and stuffy hymn.
They voluntarily loved it and eventually sang their little hears out:
Alas and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head for such a wretch as I? At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith, I received my sight and now I am happy all the day…
Beautiful. Meaningful. Eternal.
I could have died of happiness on the spot.
Our entire day carried with it the same solemnity and sweetness. When we began to dress in our church clothes for a Good Friday church gathering that evening, Gideon asked if he might take his bike and ride it in the church parking lot.
“No, not tonight, Gid.” Papa said.
“But why?” he asked.
“Well, because we’re going to church. Tonight is our Good Friday service.” Papa explained.
“Ohhh…” Gid replied, relief in his voice as he explained,”Well I can be sad while I ride my bike!”
We laughed at his childish interpretation of our day, but with hope; for someday, by the grace of God, he will rightly understand the weightiness of Good Friday, mourning over the broken state of the world in general and his heart in particular, but joyful for the redeeming work of Jesus Christ who rose from Friday’s grave.
I got a taste of what Easter weekend can be like this Good Friday…
And I’m thinking that maybe next year, the Easter Bunny will come the week after Easter.