Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Traditions II

I had several people ask about the Easter egg activity to teach little ones about Christ and the 'point' of Easter.  We love to do this and truthfully, it makes Easter more real for me.  Something about the simplicity and the visual, tactile approach of this that brings it home.

So . . . here it is.  A little improved over last year . . .

First, you need to gather your supplies.

Eggs (we used fresh white eggs - not hardboiled)
3" wicks (you purchase these in the candle making section of most craft stores)
Candle wax OR paraffin wax you'd use for canning (it's cheaper!)
Egg dye
Something to sit the eggs on & for lighting them later (we used these fun tea light containers I got at Michaels)

To begin, we prayed and then talked about "why an egg?"  Eggs represent new life - in the case of Easter, new life in Christ.  A new beginning.

II Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

John 5:24 - "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life."

Second, we talked about how we are created in the image of God.  We read Genesis 1:27 - "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

We talked about how we are ALL created in the image of God, yet each and every one of us - all of  humanity for all of time - is one of a kind, unique, special.  We considered then, how BIG God is.  Billions of people, each made in His image, yet each completely different.

Then, we dyed those plain ol' white eggs and made them each different . . .

And because I want to be totally honest and let you all know that we are just a bunch of sinful folks over here AND because I have a pet peeve with bloggers who paint a picture of family perfection (especially when it's spiritual perfection) it was at this point that we had to take a time out to talk about how arguing about who goes first and throwing the occasional elbow is MISSING THE POINT KIDS! It's at this point that I started praying, PRAYING, for God to send me an abundance of peace and PATIENCE.  It is very hard to smile and be spiritual when the little devils are acting like that!

Okay.  Smile.  Ready to go on?

We got bored with the plain old egg dye . . . not too exciting huh?

So, we broke out the food coloring and started dribbling it over the eggs.  A little here, a little there, some really messy hands . . . and here's what we ended up with . . .

Pretty eggs.  We were all happy with the way they turned out which led us to talk about the feeling of joy we get when we create beautiful things.  Which led us to talk about God and his amazing, breathtaking creation.  ALL of it.  Does He feel joy about the things He creates???  Does He feel joy over us?

Genesis 1:31 - "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good . . ."

Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet  you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Third, we talked about the problem of sin.  That we have been separated from God because of it.  We have a problem that needs fixing. 

I took each egg - unique, pretty on the outside, smooth - and broke it open.  Inside was a gooey mess.  Outside, the shell was jagged, uneven, broken.  I cannot tell you how poignant this moment is for all of us.  Such an incredible visual and conversation about outward appearances and the truth about what's on the inside.

Proverbs 20:9 - "Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"?"

Ecclesiastes 7:20 - "There is not a righteous  man on earth who does what is right and never sins."

So, we have a BIG problem.  Sin cannot stand in the presence of God.  Sin demands a reckoning, a payment.  The wage sin demands is DEATH.  Spiritual death and physical death.  One look around this world and one honest look into our own hearts tells us the problem is very real.

We have another problem.  We can't fix the sin problem on our own.  No matter how hard we try.

And so, fourth, we talked about the fact that we NEED someone bigger who can take care of the problem.  We need a solution in order to LIVE.  This brings us to JESUS CHRIST.  The ONLY one who can fix our problem.  The ONLY reason we celebrate this Easter holiday.

Romans 5:6-8 - "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 4:25 - "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised up to life for our justification."

Fifth, I melted the wax on low and we placed the wicks inside each egg.

Then I poured the melted wax into the EMPTY egg shell and FILLED it.  We discussed how once we have recognized our sin problem we can come humbly to Christ and ask him to fix it.  And he will.  And he does.  He FILLS US with his Holy Spirit, his love, his joy, his LIFE.

Acts 13:52 - "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

Ephesians 3:16-19 - "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Titus 3:3-7 - "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

Sixth, we reflected on just what that means for us.  He gave HIS life - his perfect, sinless life - and submitted himself to a brutal death so that we may LIVE.  And if Christ willingly laid down his life so that we may live, and he fills us with his Spirit so that we may live abundantly, the very least we can do is to live our lives for him and in accordance with his will.  Perfectly, certainly not.  But with perserverance and obedience and allegiance to our KING.

Hebrews 12:1-2 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Romans 12:1-2 - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I Peter 1:13-16 - "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy.""

After this, we put the eggs aside to allow the wax to set up and to wait for night.  The next part is so much more meaningful if you can do it in a darkened room.

Last, later that evening, we grabbed bibles, turned out the lights, got quiet (darkness helps kids get really quiet) and lined up the candles . . .

John 8:12 - "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.""

Monday, April 4, 2011

We're Getting Closer!

As of Sunday, we are officially . . .

. . . months DTE (dossier to Ethiopia)!! This is good news because it means we're that much closer to our referral date.  I have to confess it seems like we've been waiting much longer than seven months.  Praying and hoping we'll get good news soon.  We would love to have these kiddos home before summer ends.

We are officially number . . .

. . . on the waiting list for twins or siblings age 0-4 years, and number . . .

. . . on our agency's waiting list for unrelated children age 0-4 years!

Since the Ethiopian government has re-structured the department that writes approval letters for adoption, subsequent referrals, court dates and embassy dates seem to be moving more smoothly and efficiently.  This is GOOD news for all waiting on referrals and GOOD news for orpans waiting on a forever family to come to them.  With the current movement we've seen, we're hoping for a referral in the next two months.  Optimistic, but that is exactly what we're praying for.

Hope you all are enjoying the rain today.  :-)