How do we Easter as adults? As children, it seemed so easy. Childhood Easter meant my sisters and I wore matching floral dresses, handmade by my grandmother. After waking up, my excitement drew me downstairs to find my Easter basket! Then, after finding it, sometimes with the help of the hot-and-cold game, my mother would attempt to curl my thin, fine hair. Finally, after that didn’t work, we would dawn our dresses and take a picture before heading off to church. As a kid, Easter felt fun. Springtime air combined with candy and Easter egg hunts, however, as an adult without children Easter can come and go without notice.
Christmas and Easter are the two most celebrated holidays for Christians, however, Christmas never sneaks past us. But somehow, we haven’t learned how to do Easter as adults. This might be due to the commercialization of Christmas, and I have to say, I am thankful Easter is not quite as much drama. But, there has to be a way to make Easter special, especially when you don’t have children to hide candy for or to dress in matching outfits.
1) Celebrate Lent
Partaking in Lent encourages Christians to look forward to Easter morning and can make your own Easter a richer experience. Lent is an old English word that means, “springtime.” Traditionally, three tenants comprise Lent: fasting, prayer and generosity. Fasting is probably the most recognized component. It is important to keep in mind that, while the Bible does not specifically mention Lent, fasting, prayer and generosity are certainly Biblical.
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus fasts for 40 days. During this time he says, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Jesus says, “It is written” because he quoted an Old Testament verse (Deuteronomy 8:3), which tells about a time God provided food for people. After providing this food God then reminds the people that they have another need: His words. The people need his involvement in their lives.
Jesus Himself fasted, going without food for 40 days relies on this verse for strength to overcome temptation. Usually, to fast for Lent, an individual chooses one thing they often use, rely on, or enjoy and give it up for the 40 days preceding Easter. Fasting for Lent will tire you. Just as Jesus relied on Bible verses for strength, Lent challenges us to rely on God in new ways. Giving up a seemingly simple thing may leave you exhausted, annoyed or frustrated. However, that is the point. We do not have to turn to material things for strength or joy.
This includes Fasting
If you grew up with Lent, you probably remember people asking what you planned to give up and if you didn’t grew up with Lent, you may have no idea how you would answer. Popular Lent fasts include: coffee, candy, TV shows or social media. All of these play relatively minor roles in our life, however, we consume them on a daily basis. This means giving them up disrupts our routine. In reality, it looks like not having ice-cream after dinner or not scrolling through social media while waiting for something. How much do those things affect you? You’ll never know until go without them for a period.
Therefore, you may realize upon giving up candy, that you used it as a motivator and now it feels more difficult to get tasks done. Further, it makes you feel weak, and maybe a bit silly, that without salted caramel chocolate your afternoon does not feel complete. We all have these minute things in life that motivate, comfort, make us smile or simply have become such an ingrained habit that without it, life feels a little off. This increases our discomfort.
Prayer is essential component
Prayer is another important part of celebrating Easter as an adult. During Lent, prayer fits perfectly in these uncomfortable moments. Behavioral Psychologists talk about the habit cycle: cue, routine, reward. An example would be, you feel bored (cue), so you take out your phone and find social media (routine) and now amusement replaces boredom (reward). When you give up social media for Lent, in preparation for Easter, you will still have the cue of feeling bored, however, your habit cycle is interrupted. In that way, you use that cue, the discomfort, as prompt to pray.
It might feel awkward or difficult, especially if this is a new practice for you, but pray for the coming Easter season. Thank God for sending Christ to die for us. Ask God to point out people in your life that need his resurrecting power and await a new season. Reflect on your life and heart, do you see habits or sins that need to end? These moments will prepare your heart for the joy of Easter morning.
2) Heart Preparation
This year, Lent was from March 6-April 18. Wait, that’s more than 40 days? The Western Christian Church does not count Sundays in Lent because you do not have to “fast” on Sundays. Actually, you do not have to fast at all. Likely, some people may have grown up in a household where Lent was required. Often reasons behind it remained unexplained. Sadly, accidentally breaking fast brought shame and guilt. Whereas, a perfectly completed Lent meant a checked off box for the rest of the year in a list of religious duties.
However, neither of those situations are good. Lent should not create a sense of guilt that drives you away from God. Nor should it swell your heart with pride. It should prepare your heart. Therefore, notice in Matt 6:16 (just after his own fast) Jesus says, “When you fast do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Meaning, don’t make it obvious when you fast, keep it between you and God. Don’t complain of tiredness because you gave up coffee. If you see someone eating ice-cream, don’t longingly look at it (disfigure your face), and say “Oh, I wish I could have ice-cream but I gave it up for Lent.” Thus, bragging about fasting does not make your Lenten fast more valid.
In conclusion, a friendly reminder that God’s grace saves us. Easter is a recognition of His saving grace. Lent, or any fasting, should not be used as a way to earn God’s favor, instead it should remind us of our own weakness. Christ’s sacrifice and God’s power that raised him from the dead on Easter should humble us. The days leading to Easter is a season to remind us of that sacrifice and power. Additionally, it is an opportunity for new growth in our spiritual lives. And it should. therefore, point the way to Easter by having prepared our heart.