It's one of those things that bugs me: Why is Christmas a season? And Easter a day?
We need both holy days, desperately. Both are reason to celebrate. Both herald a new beginning, the dawn of a new age.
But one could argue that Easter is more important. Obviously, without Christmas - without the birth of Jesus - there would be no resurrection.
But without Easter, there is no hope.
So it gets under my skin a bit, that we have endless parties and traditions and songs and foods to mark Christmas, but very little to make Easter meaningful. (And things like Easter egg hunts and pretty dresses don't count in my mind. Those are celebrations of spring, not of Jesus.)
I especially want my kids to understand the awe of Easter. I want them to know the reason why Jesus' coming is the epicenter of history, why his death matters, why his new life changes everything. I want them to get caught in the downpour of joy that can only come when we find Jesus alive again. I want them to feel the mountains tremble.
And to do this, I think they need to experience Lent.
Maybe not the way adults do it. Telling my five-year-old that she can't eat chocolate for the next six weeks is not going to draw her nigh to God, you know what I mean?
But I think we need more than a weekend to cover this. We need a build-up, a countdown, a reminder of what's coming. I want anticipation.
The back of my brain is always chewing on this, on how to make Easter relevant and real to my family.
Last year, I had the opportunity to test out a new product being developed by FamilyLife co-founder Barbara Rainey called The Messiah Mystery. It's a six-week journey, designed to begin on Ash Wednesday, that leads kids to follow clues and discover the true meaning of Lent and prepare for Holy Week. It's an easily adaptable resource. Have little kids who can't sit still during Bible reading? Just read the bold sections of the devotional. Need to condense six weeks into four? No problem. Since there's really just one big activity a week, you can adapt. Want to make the lessons really interactive for antsy kids? There are ideas for that.
I especially love the reason why Barbara created The Messiah Mystery. She says, in the intro: "I remember well how busy I was as a mom of six. It was a challenge to create meaningful moments with my children. So I've worked hard to make "The Messiah Mystery" as easy to use as possible."
Don't you love that? She's like a busy mom's elf. She does the work, and we reap the benefits.
This year, I have The Messiah Mystery 2.0, as it were.
Barbara and her team modified last year's beta version to produce an updated, even more exciting kit. There's just one problem: It already sold out.
Of course, that makes this giveaway that much more awesome, because I have one of the few remaining kits to give to one of you. It's a limited edition, y'all.
The kit includes instructions, a journal filled with stories and clues, a magnifying glass, two clue books to document your discoveries, and a 20”x 24” poster with 40 paper strips that reveal a beautiful image on the final day of Lent.
I've had some technical difficulties with my blog this week, so to up your odds, I'm going to leave the giveaway open until Ash Wednesday, February 13. FamilyLife has promised to mail The Messiah Mystery kit right away to the winner, so you won't be far behind. And a quick note: You can enter the contest once a day by Tweeting about it. Feel free to exploit that option. Happy clicking!
(If you aren't familiar with Rafflecopter, don't be scared by the widget. Just click the +1 next to each option and then hit the big "Enter!" or "I Tweeted" or "I'm a Fan" button after you earn an entry! If you've done it right, you should see a big "Done!" button replace the +1. And if you're really observant, you'll see the number of total entries at the top of the widget grow by one with every entry you make. You can also check the number of entries you have in the top right corner; if you've used every option to enter, it will say 3/3.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway