“Honestly,” exclaimed Amanda, “Preparing an elaborate Easter Sunday outfit is the extent of most people’s preparation for the day.”
“Funny,” I thought, “She might be right.”
After asking several others the same question, “how do you prepare for Easter?”, I learned that most had never considered the question. Their common reply was a thoughtful, “I don’t really.”
Each year we spend multiple hours preparing to celebrate anniversaries, Christmas, the Super Bowl, and Thanksgiving. While, on the other hand, preparation for Easter is largely neglected. We easily forget that the significance of Easter is central to who we are as Christians. God’s son died. Yet, he didn’t stay in the grave. He rose again Easter morning, conquering both sin and death. Jesus’ work changes everything. We, through faith in Jesus, can now come boldly before the throne of God in fellowship. Above every other anniversary or celebration, Easter is the occasion most worthy of our attention and preparation.
Before looking at a few practical ways to prepare for Easter, we must realize that our culture, when thinking of Easter, envisions bunnies, eggs, and candy. Easter is a day to celebrate spring. I don’t want to debate whether Christians should go on egg hunts, but rather warn that our culture’s perspective of the holiday is of a totally different nature than a Christian’s. We are remembering the work of Christ, not the Easter bunny.
Beyond the eggs and bunnies, our culture thinks of Easter once a year and we, sadly, often do the same. This mindset is important to avoid. The realities of Christ’s death and resurrection are paramount to our Christian life. A missionary in training states it well, “I think the concept of who Jesus is and what he did should be with us all the time. Yes, we celebrate [Easter], but it needs to be with us all the time.”
So far you may agree with me in the hypothetical but are not sure how to precede into the practical. Practical preparation for Easter will look different for each of us, but Scripture reading, fasting and reflecting on God’s work in our lives are beneficial places to start.
Reading Scripture is an important component of preparing for Easter. To begin, study the Old Testament prophecies depicting Christ’ death and resurrection, e.g. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22. Then transition to the Gospels where the apostles depict and explain the fulfillment of those OT prophecies. I would also suggest reading in the Epistles. The Apostle Paul reiterates over and over again the impact that the Gospel has on our lives (Ephesians 1 & 2, Romans 8).
Fasting is another great way to prepare yourself to celebrate Easter. The wider church has practiced this for generations (Russo). The Catholic church, Eastern Orthodox, and others spend 40 days fasting before Easter. Their members fast anything from food to TV to give more time for prayer and worship. I believe we can learn from their example. Fasting is not easy but doing so allows for a more focused time of preparation.
Finally, reflecting on God’s work in your life over the past year brings the realities of Easter closer to home. Again, a response to my interview question sums it up nicely, “I prepare for Easter by looking over my life to see what God is doing in me. I review areas in my life that have been affected and changed by his resurrection. I go back to the fact that Jesus has defeated everything and remember that his power frees me from things that I never thought I would be. This then leads me to thank and praise him for the power he has over death and the Enemy.”
Our Great Hope
The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is worth preparing for and celebrating. Unless Jesus has risen from the dead, “we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:19 NKJV). But He has risen indeed, and He is coming back again! As his children, He is living in us, freeing us from the sin that entangles us. So, as you think about Easter, prepare and meditate on God’s work and allow it to change your life. For as an EBI student reflects, “if there was no resurrection then our Christian lives are in vain. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to die, he had to rise from the dead. It [Christ’s work] has to impact my life because without it, there is nothing worth living for.”