Easter is a special time of the year for our family. I mean, who doesn’t like beautiful spring weather, blooming flowers, new clothes, baskets full of candy and egg hunts?
My granddaughter particularly loves a good Easter egg hunt and has been known to get the grand prize for the most eggs found! I'm not sure where she gets such a competitive spirit, but egg hunting is a serious business for her- outfitted with good shoes and bunny ears she is a force to be reckoned with.
The prize- little plastic eggs filled with hidden surprises!
Her delight over these eggs is no different than her pleasure in dyeing them.
Much ado over some eggs, right?
Did you know that the Christian custom of Easter eggs started among the early Christians of Mesopotamia who stained eggs with red coloring in remembrance of the blood shed by Christ at His crucifixion?
The spectrum of colors associated with Easter later expanded beyond the color red and took on additional symbolic meanings:
White: A symbol of purity representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ through light, innocence, joy, triumph, and glory.
Violet: A symbol of penance, humility, and melancholy. Violet is the prominent color on Good Friday signifying the sorrow and suffering of Jesus. It is also the popular color associated with power and royalty.
Pink: A select color symbolizing joy and love.
Green: A symbol of hope related to Christ's resurrection and eternal life.
Although the color of the eggs can be significant, it is the egg itself that is the heart of the Easter message. You see, eggs historically were an ancient symbol of new life. Thus, the exchanging of colored eggs became incorporated into the memorial celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, marked as the holy day we now know as Easter. Easter eggs were given as tokens to remind others of Jesus’ triumphant victory over death and his emergence from the tomb.
It is with this idea of new life that I want to share with you a believed-to-be true story initially told by Ida Mae Kempel:
“Jeremy was born with a variety of disabilities and attending the second grade at the age of twelve was undoubtedly a challenge; notably, for his teacher, Doris Miller. She would often become exasperated with him because of his disruptive behavior.
One day she decided to meet with his parents. As they entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really has trouble being in the classroom. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems."
Jeremy's mother cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Doris," he said "there is no other class he would fit in. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of your class. We know he really loves it here."
Doris sat for a long time after they had left, she wanted to sympathize with them. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction.
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. "Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that family, trying to meet what were probably many medical bills due to his various issues," she thought. "Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy." From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's disruptions.
Then one day, he ran into the classroom. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red. She stammered, "Why, that's very nice, Jeremy. But, please take your seat now."
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris wanted to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, so she gave each child a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back next week with something inside that shows new life." The children responded enthusiastically - all except Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Did he understand to bring back the egg with something inside? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain it to them.
Unfortunately, Doris had a chaotic week and completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.
The day arrived, and as the children entered her classroom, they placed their eggs in a large wicker basket at the front of the room. They eagerly waited to open all the eggs. In the first egg, they discovered a flower. "Oh yes, life!" she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too." Next, a rock with moss on it was discovered in an egg. She explained that moss, too, showed life.
Then they opened the fourth egg. The egg was empty. Doris figured it was Jeremy's egg and he had not understood what he was supposed to do with it. Not wanting to embarrass him, Doris moved it to the side and was about to open another egg.
Suddenly Jeremy spoke up, "Aren't you going to talk about my egg?"
Flustered, Doris replied, "But this egg is empty."
He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too. Jesus was killed and put in there. Then God raised him up. So, the egg should be empty on Easter."
When the recess bell rang, and the children were gone, Doris cried over the child-like faith and love demonstrated by Jeremy.
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the funeral were surprised to see nineteen little eggs on top of his casket, ALL EMPTY.”
It is through the eyes of children that we can see the purest glimpse of unfiltered understanding and faith. Much like Jeremy’s sharing of his Easter egg, my granddaughter boldly tells others about Jesus and invites them to her church without a blush of shame or apprehension.
We can learn so much from their innocence. Children are: trusting, joyful, content in the little things, humble, easily impressed, and able to believe without complication- taking to heart God’s Word in its simplicity.
Oh, to have the faith of a child!
God reminds us in His Word that He considers US His children-
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." ~1 John 3:1
May we embrace Easter with child-like faith, delighting in everything it symbolizes and may all the beautifully colored eggs in our lives and those of our loved ones- ALL BE EMPTY.
Because it is in the embracing of the empty egg (tomb) that new life is found!
Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to empty yourself, to become nothing in the form of man and to accept the death of a criminal; willingly dying because of your great love for us. You conquered death to bring us new life. You are the example of perfect love and perfect humility and may we always embrace you with the faith of a child!
“He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”~Matthew 18:2-4