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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Week before Easter

It is now the week before Easter, and I'm excited for what we'll be doing this week for Bible class.

First, on Monday and Tuesday (Monday with my parents, Tuesday with me and the homeschooling group) we'll be heading just a bit up north to view a life size replica of the Old Testament Sanctuary, complete with the "gold" artifacts.

Then for Bible class at home, we'll be reading Matthew 26-28 (one chapter a day Monday through Wednesday) and having a discussion about what happened during that time. I would have liked to have some palm leaves so we could start TODAY, with it being Palm Sunday. But alas, I couldn't find any.

Monday through Wednesday we will simply read the Bible texts and do a couple small Christian Easter activities. Then on Thursday we'll start creating our Resurrection Eggs (you can find this activity in the links to the right, under Easter Story) and get those finished. On Sunday morning, I'll get up early and hide the Easter "eggs" (in replacement of the non-Christian tradition of candy/colored egg hunting) in the yard (if it's nice out) or in the house and around Noon I'll let them hunt for them. When they're done hunting, we'll put the "eggs" in order and re-read the story of the Resurrection.

On Friday, we'll create Resurrection Cookies (this activity can also be found in the Easter Story link to the right, but I will also include it in this blog). It is only supposed to be an over-night activity, but I'm thinking about making it an Easter WEEKEND activity....Make the cookies on Friday, leave them alone all day Saturday, then Sunday morning before we do anything else, finishing the project.

This will also be our new Easter tradition (when they are with me for Easter). We used to not do ANYTHING for Easter, because the holiday itself is a pagan holiday, with nothing Christian about it. I should say, the ORIGINS are pagan. But the thing is, when they are with their Dad for Easter, they go egg hunting and all that other fun stuff. I need to make the REAL Easter something they will remember and admire. Christ's Crucifixion was not a fun thing, but something needs to be done to place in our children's heads the meaning of it all. Colored eggs and candy and bunny rabbits are NOT the true meaning of the Christian Easter.

So here we begin our new Easter tradition. And I may even change the name. Given that the term "Easter" does come from the pagan origins of the holiday (Ishtar, whom the holiday was made for), I may request that in our household we call it Resurrection Day. It even changes the images in my head that pop up when I say it. "Easter" brings up images of bunnies and colored eggs and candy. "Resurrection" brings up images of Christ.

Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar

Other items needed:
Plastic baggie (I do one for each child)
Wooden spoon (or other object that can pound on nuts in a baggie without breaking the baggie; again, one for each child)
Tape (Scotch tape doesn't work terribly well for this project. I would suggest duct tape or clear packing tape)

Preheat oven to 300*. It is VERY important to do this before doing anything else!

1. Place nuts in baggie(s), seal tightly, and allow the child(ren) to beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3

2. Open the vinegar and let everyone smell it. Pour 1 teaspoon into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, all He was given to drink was vinegar. Read John 19:28-30

3. Add egg whites to vinegar. Tell everyone that eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11

4. Sprinkle a little salt into each person's hand. Let each taste it, then brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27

5. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Sprinkle a little sugar into each person's hand. Let each taste it, then pour 1 cup of sugar into the bowl. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16

6. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color of white represents our purity in God's eyes becuase our sins are cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18.

7. Fold in nuts gently. Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60

8. Put the cookie sheet in the oven; close the door and TURN THE OVEN OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door shut. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66

9. You're done! Explain that you cannot eat the cookies tonight, but that you have to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. This might make your children sad, but you can use this to explain that Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22

10. The next morning*, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the third day, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9

*Or if you choose to make it a weekend thing, leave them in the sealed oven (plan to have meals that day that do not require you to heat up the oven, lol). Then on Sunday (Resurrection) morning, compete step 10.