JOY for Today - Easter 2022

On Easter we celebrate the day Jesus faced death and triumphed! He was, is, and will always be victorious and worthy of all our praise. Sing it loud; sing it JOYfully!

A roaring lion in the background with text overlay that reads: Easter; April 17, 2022; "Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion declared the grave has no claim on me." - Phil Wickham; Living Hope
Photo by Ajay Lalu via Pixabay

Easter Offerings:


Did You Know:

  1. Easter's date changes annually because it is tied to the full moon? Specifically, during the Council of Nicaea, the Western church agreed Easter would be celebrated the Sunday following the first full moon in spring (after the Vernal Equinox). Currently, however, Easter's date sometimes misses the lunar cycle mark. To be thorough, the Western Church created a table of future Easter dates by projecting full moons. These projections no longer match actual full moon dates, but we still use the Ecclesiastical Full Moon projections to determine Easter's Date.  
  2. We can thank Germany for the Easter bunny? While no one is completely sure of Easter's origin, (festivals for spring and fertility goddesses are hypothesized) we can trace the origin of the Easter bunny. German immigrants to America brought with them the tradition of the Easter bunny: Oschter Haws or Osterhase. And the first published account of an egg-laying bunny appeared in a German medical essay in 1682. In the essay, the doctor warned families of impending tummy troubles due to eggs eaten without butter and salt.
  3. Today's Easter basket replaced nests children historically made for the Easter hare? The nests were built to provide a place for the hare to lay its eggs, and coincidentally, made it easier for the children to find.
  4. Bunnies are associated with virgin birth and eggs with resurrection? It was once believed that rabbits, prolific procreators, could reproduce asexually. Drawing on this belief, Renaissance painters used rabbits and hares to represent fertility and purity in religious paintings (see "The Madonna of the Rabbit" by Titian). If we couple this with the idea that the Easter egg symbolizes resurrection, the story of Jesus' life through Easter symbology unfolds in a Virgin mother (bunny) delivering resurrection or new life (eggs) to earth.
  5. The Easter egg roll represents the stone being rolled away from Jesus' tomb? The stone was removed not to free Jesus, but to disprove His resurrection. Many strong men rolled the 2-ton stone confident they would see Jesus' lifeless form but instead became the first of over 500 people to testify His resurrection.
Read more about Easter:

We'd Love to Know:

Which fact was new to you?

Wolfe Stew Connects

I'll be honest: I have participated in many Easter celebrations without fully understanding or embracing the significance. It wasn't until I attended an Easter service where the minister expressed doubt in Jesus' resurrection and a subsequent minister's incredulous reaction - "If Christ wasn't resurrected, what do we have to hope in?" - that I came to appreciate Easter on a deeper level. (Although, truth be told, when a worship leader suggested it should be valued higher than Christmas to every Christian, I heard that claim as fighting words.)

In researching to write this post, I became quite excited to discover even Easter traditions I once thought trivial hold sacred meaning - if you allow them to. This Easter:
  • When my nephew finds his chocolate bunny, I'll remember the sweet miracle of baby Jesus
  • With each egg he tucks away in his basket, I'll remember Jesus already nests in my heart.
  • As I break the eggshell, I will remind myself that death has no hold over me because it could not claim Christ. 
Belief in a resurrected Jesus is vital to our faith, but an element many people struggle to trust in. Alas, within this story lies our doubting Thomas (John 20:24-29). But, through Thomas' story, I hope you hear this: in your struggle with trust, you are not alone. Trusting God is, at times, a fight. A fight worth fighting because on the other side, you find yourself closer to Jesus. If the saying, "anything worth having is worth fighting for," is true, then I want my every fight to be for Jesus.

If you want to fight to grow in TRUST with us, we'd love to have you. We've crafted a GROWTH for Today calendar that aims to help you grow in trusting Jesus. Each day features a short, but impactful, activity built around learning to trust that God is who He says He is and that we can trust His promises. If you can grow in this area too, join us. Welcome to the FIGHT, Warrior!

We'd Love to Know:

What new meaning Easter holds for you this year.


Bible Verses and Quotes to Inspire

Verses

  • "Jesus then said, "I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 CEV
  • "The angel told the women, "Don't be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay." Matthew 28:5-6 CSB
  • "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 NIV
  • "As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. We know that death no longer has any power over Christ. He died and was raised to life, never again to die. When Christ died, he died for sin once and for all. But now he is alive and he lives only for God. In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God." Romans 6:8-11 CEV
  • "Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on." I Peter 1:3 CEV

Quotes

  • "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." - Pope John Paul II
  • "The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies." - Kate McGahan, "Only Gone from Your Sight."
  • "Easter is the only time when it's perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket." Evan Esar 
  • "Then came the morning that sealed the promise / Your buried body began to breathe / Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion / Declared the grave has no claim on me." - Phil Wikham "Living Hope"
  • "Our savior displayed on a criminal's cross / Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost / But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand / That's when death was arrested and my life began." - Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, Paul Taylor Smith, and Ryan Heath Balltzglier "Death Was Arrested"

We'd Love to Know:

Which verse or quote encapsulates Easter most for you?

Activity Suggestions

Celebrate! He is Risen!

Likely, you arrive equipped with your annual arsenal of Easter activities: Easter service, egg hunts, and traditional foods. But, if you're looking to refresh that basket, here's a few additional ideas for you:

FOR EVERYONE
  • Embark on a scavenger hunt through the Easter story with Bible verses as clues from Arabah Joy.
    • First, find the verse in your Bible.
    • Identify the item hinted at.
    • Find the item and take a picture of it. (If you can't find the item, draw it then take a picture; but accept a penalty for not finding the item.)
    • Return and compare results.
  • Color Easter pictures
  • Make an egg time machine (suggestion from Sign Up Genius)
    • Everyone writes a letter to themselves.
    • Store it in an Easter egg.
    • Bring it out again next year to reflect on the year's growth and reminisce on times past.

FOR YOUNGER KIDS

Plant a Jellybean Garden. Suggested at Sign Up Genius, this activity is easy to do.
  • Tell your littles to plant jellybeans. 
  • Accompany them so you know where they are planted.
  • When they are sleeping, go outside and replace the jellybeans with lollipops.

FOR OLDER KIDS

Try an Easter Basket puzzle hunt (suggested by Sign Up Genius).
  • Buy a blank puzzle with pieces small enough to fit into Easter eggs.
  • Put the puzzle together.
  • Write or draw a hint to the location of the Easter basket. 
  • Place each piece in its own Easter egg.
  • Hide the eggs anywhere and the basket at the hinted location.

FOR ADULTS

Host a dessert exchange or recipe cook-off. Make sure that everyone brings copies of their recipes to share! (Suggested by Better Homes and Gardens)


We'd Love to Know: 

What's your favorite Easter tradition?

We’re excited to share one more day with you and wish you JOY for Today and HOPE for Tomorrow.

Fighting the Good Fight with You,

Red stew bowl with steam rising from top. Wolfe Stew crawled on front.

Find even more JOY for Today in our monthly calendars, holiday, and seasonal posts.

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