My week 6 of island living ends with the joy of Easter shown on the grandchildren's faces! Their exuberance for celebration always makes planning the event so much fun.
I enjoyed conspiring the treats for this special event with my daughter for her little ones.
She is so clever and always looking for ways to teach spiritual truths.
This weekend was no exceptions.
Throughout most of my visit, we've been having devotionals with the little ones using object lessons to teach LENT through the life of Jesus Christ.
Each evening has been so good as we stopped and contemplated some event that led up to Jesus dying on the cross. This week, we focused on Jesus' last week and his arrival in Jerusalem.
Finally, on Friday evening, we celebrated a Passover meal of remembrance. We tasted bitter herbs to remind us of how bitter slavery was for God's people. We tasted salty water to remind us of the tears shed during those bitter years and sugar water of God's goodness. We tasted several more items, culminating the progression with a delicious supper of lamb and culminating with the remembrance of the Last Supper.
It was a big deal to even have our shoes on - something seldom done in Asian homes - but even this was a reminder of God's people prepared for travel on that fateful day when the angel of death passed over and God gave the command to "GO".
To prepare for Easter, their mom gave each of the girls a dirty bucket and they collected 5 rocks each for their bucket. During devotions, she talked about SIN and how our hearts are like stone with no love for anyone but ourselves. On each stone, they wrote a sin they considered a struggle in their lives. The little girls were so honest and precise, surprising me with their understanding of what doesn't please God in their daily interactions.
Then we read how God promises to take our old stony hearts and give us new hearts that love Him. He promised to make us 'new creations'. We put the old dirty buckets in the center of the table with the white candle which represents the Lord Jesus as "the LIGHT of the world".
Saturday night, his light was out because He had died for those sins and taken our stony hearts to the cross. We covered the old dirty baskets of stones with red fabric - and the little girls went to bed understanding that Jesus' blood covered all those sins listed on their rocks.
As they walked away, my daughter explained that just like they hoped those dirty buckets would not still be there in the morning, so the disciples of Jesus had hoped for a miracle as they walked away from the cross and tomb.
That HOPE is the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ...and new life promised in Christ to those who believe that God has raised Him from the dead.
Under the RED fabric this morning, each girl will find a beautiful decorated bucket with fun gifts inside. We removed the stones and placed them in a bucket labeled for Jesus and filled their new buckets with 'peeps', tootsie pops, toys and a sweet piece of jewelry.
We will talk about how Christ's resurrection brings new life to our hearts. God has promised those who believe will receive a new heart and be securely placed "in Christ".
Old things like stones should be "put away" because God took them. We should never reclaim them.
Later when tensions flared and the little one was getting angry, I asked her if she was taking one of her stones back from Jesus. With a precious expression, she exclaimed, "Oh...no! He can carry it this time!" and ran off to play happily.
I was really challenged by this devotional and hope to carry it through the year with me. Just like the little one, I can decide to have my own way and take back a stone that I've already given to Jesus to remove as "far as the east is from the west".
OR I can remember my Jesus promised a NEW HEART and took on himself my whole dirty bucket of stones. If in child-like faith I believe Him, I will run off JOYFULLY to live with so much gratitude for His burden-lifting GIFT.
THANK YOU, Jesus...for Easter!
Romans 3:24 "Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty.
He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins." NLT
THANK YOU for the message so simple that even a child can grasp all YOU accomplished in your death on the cross and the GIFT of a new heart through your RESURRECTION!
"HE IS RISEN!"
"He is risen, indeed."
And from this island and 13 hours time zone difference....Happy Easter, dear loved ones!!