Traditions are good. We all have them. The traditions I observe to celebrate events like birthdays, Christmas, and Thanksgiving with my family are different from others’ traditions. My wife and I celebrate our anniversary differently than others celebrate. Traditions are good. They are good, insofar as they do not distract us from Christ and the calling God has placed upon us. The Church has traditions, too, whether we realize it or not. Some churches have a tradition of making visitors stand up and introduce themselves at the beginning of a worship service, others have them fill out a visitor card, and still others warmly greet them before and after worship. Historically, the Church has had traditions surrounding Christmas, Lent, Easter, Sundays, and other days that mark significant events in the life of Christ and the Church. Insofar as we are not distracted from Christ by these traditions, they are good. Insofar as they point us to Christ, they are good. Following is a proposal for a new tradition, one that will hopefully continue to point us to Christ.
During the season of Lent, in preparation for Easter, many Christians participate in the historic Church tradition of fasting. Historically, this meant that they gave up ‘fats.’ The historic Church has traditionally fasted from meat, eggs, and dairy during Lent. In our day, the overall fast from fats has been replaced with a fast from ‘X,’ where ‘X’ is something from which the individual chooses to fast.
Out of traditions arose practices with which we are still familiar. For example, Fat Tuesday (the last day of Mardi Gras or Carnival) derived its name from the fact that it was the last day—before Lent began—in which you could eat fats. As a result, many churches still host pancake breakfasts on the Tuesday before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. These pancake breakfasts originally began as a way by which a community could rid itself of all of the fats that might spoil during the Lenten season: eggs, butter, milk, etc.
Moreover, during the Lenten season, Christians, many of whom lived in agrarian societies or at the very least had their own chickens and maybe a goat or two, would accumulate a large quantity of eggs. Normally, these eggs would be eaten as they were laid. During Lent, however, they could not be eaten, so they were saved. At the end of Lent, on Easter Sunday, the Christian community would have so many eggs that they would use them—in new traditions—to color and hide; hence, the advent of the Easter egg and the Easter egg hunt.
This Sunday, we reach the culmination of Lenten fasting and repentance: Resurrection Sunday, or Easter. Easter occurs in the spring—except for those poor souls who live south of the equator—because, like spring, it symbolizes and marks new life and a new creation. Spring marks the end of winter, when the earth has died, has been covered in a white blanket of death, and refuses to spring forth new vegetation and life. Spring also marks new life and new creation, because the earth is baptized with rain (“April showers bring May flowers”) and with it, new life: flowers, plant life, and babies (birds, animals, and sometimes even humans).
Easter does likewise. Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life, and more importantly for us—the firstfruits of the resurrection—our resurrection. We, in Him, are made new creatures who continue living in an old world, wherein we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; KJV). Through our prayers and our endeavors in this world, we make this old world into a new world—a new world that will eventually be known as the new heaven and the new earth.
What do we do, however, with this knowledge, this event, that beckons us to our resurrection and new life? We go back to eating or doing whatever it was we gave up and start looking forward to the next holiday, Memorial Day, when we can have a barbecue with our friends and family and enjoy a day home from work.
This is not bad. Rest and relaxation were built into the calendar God gave Israel. They had more and lengthier feasts and festivals for rest and fun than we can imagine in our busy world. What could we do, however, that would be more symbolic—as fasting was of Lent—of our new life connected so closely to Easter?
The season that follows Easter is a perfect opportunity for us, especially as homeschoolers, to mark our new life. Just as we gave up a part of our old life in Lent, let us pick up something for our new life in Easter! This is a time, especially with the end of your homeschooling year in sight, to learn something new and incorporate it into your new life. Learn to play the piano or some other musical instrument with which you can bring joy and happiness to those around you. Plant a garden, then feast on the fruits of your labor with friends and family. Construct a new deck or gazebo for your yard, on which you can fellowship with those same friends and family. Learn a new language, through which you can add new friends to your friends and family.
The time is available, should you choose to participate in this opportunity. The resources are out there. Many communities offer summer programs for gardening, beekeeping, language learning, sports lessons, and more. Jump in, with all of your new life, and learn or do something new. Through this, you can more significantly recognize your new life, which is so closely connected to Easter. Through this, you can enhance the quality of that new life in this world. Through this, you can model to your children the significance and importance of that new life for them, and by it point them to Christ.
Spring is here. Easter is here. New life is here for the world around us. Use this as an opportunity to bring new life to your own family, home, and world. Point them to Christ. For He is risen! He is risen indeed!