Did you know that the Easter Tree is nothing new? I thought it’s a novel idea, but apparently it’s a European tradition and our American cousins have had Easter Trees for a while. Anyway, that’s the activity Arthur had prepared for us on the last session of Kids’ Club before school broke up for the Easter holidays, but first of all we had to talk about the Easter story. The children were keen to show off their knowledge, so we had a Q&A time.
It turned out that a fair bit of prompting was needed, so we had a quick recap of Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday, and then how on the very first Easter Sunday, Jesus’ disciples and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb only to find his body gone. Two angels told them that Jesus was not there. He had risen from the dead! Much to Mary’s surprise, Jesus himself appeared to her in the garden where the tomb was, and her grief was turned to joy. Jesus also appeared to his disciples later, but that’s for another time. We wanted to focus on Easter Day in the session, and what it means to us.
To help with the explanation, Arthur had brought in a willow “tree” from his garden, or rather, a slender branch he had stuck in a pot of compost last year because it looked dead. He looked after it all winter, and a few weeks ago it showed signs of new life – fresh young green leaves sprouted from the twigs. So he thought it would be very apt to use it to illustrate the message of Easter – that of new life.
Talk of Easter to anyone and what excites them about it, and people think of Easter eggs, especially the children. So we asked our Kids’ Club children what the eggs have to do with Easter and with new life. At first they couldn’t move past the thought of chocolate eggs…
Arthur: What has an egg got to do with new life?
Children: Easter eggs!
Arthur: Yes… what might be inside an egg?
Arthur: What new life would you get inside a real egg?
Children: Chocolate!!!…Er… Chick?
Arthur: Yes! Little chicks are the new life you get from eggs. The eggs might not look alive, but there can be new life forming inside them. It’s a bit like that on the first Easter Sunday. Everyone knew that Jesus was dead but he came back to life with a new kind of body.
I remember taking my own children to local farms when they were little, and we always enjoyed seeing baby animals. We remember the excitement and joy of handling tiny chicks, bunnies and guinea pigs. There is definitely something to celebrate about new life.
So here at this Kids’ Club session, in order to celebrate new life, we made an Easter tree by hanging decorated Easter eggs (coloured-in cards by the children) on the branches of the willow “tree”. The idea was borrowed from an article that Arthur’s wife Rita read in the Woman Alive magazine with templates for the eggs. The children coloured these in and wrote their names and perhaps a short prayer on the back of the eggs. Then we hung them on the branches using scarlet yarns.
The Easter Egg Tree has only just been catching on over here in the UK and apparently it’s taking over Instagram and Pinterest by storm. More and more shops are selling Easter trees, together with chocolate eggs and myriad food items and decorations. This is turning into Christmas!
And like Christmas, it’s great that everyone is celebrating this important Christian festival, but let’s not forget the real meaning of Easter – that sin, death and decay isn’t the end; that God gives new life – a different kind of life, which was displayed in Jesus when he rose from the dead.
We see this similar but perhaps less powerful life force at work everyday around us, especially in springtime – in the new growth in nature, in the waking up of animals from hibernation. So it stands to reason, perhaps, that the dead-end things in life, the ugly, shameful and, dare we say sinful, things in our lives don’t have to imprison us forever. If we turn these over to Jesus, he who defeated death on a cross, can surely produce new life in us, and bring something new to our situations.
As the children have shown us, just the mere talk of new life, of little chicks (and of course chocolate) and little bunnies, fill us with excitement and positive energy. Perhaps it’s time for us grown-ups to take a leap of faith. Let’s face it, what humans can create new life? We can help the process of growth along, just as gardeners take cuttings of seemingly dead twigs and put them in compost, but we can’t force any roots or shoots to appear by will. Parents help babies and children grow by caring for them, but we don’t understand entirely the mystery of how it all happens. Scientists for centuries have tried to create new life, but still haven’t found any definitive answers.
I say that God is the only one who truly creates new beginnings, new life, new answers to our dead and decaying world. Perhaps this Easter we can let Him do that in our lives. Then we would truly have something to celebrate about.
Have a Happy Easter!