New Traditions For An Old Story
Finding New Ways to Bring the Easter Season Alive in Our Hearts, Homes and Communities
“Ask People around the world what they think is the biggest day of the year for Christians. Most will say ‘Christmas’. That’s what our society has achieved: a romantic mid-winter festival (though we don’t actually know what time of year Jesus was born) from which most of the things that really matter (the danger, the politics) are carefully excluded. The true answer- and I wish churches could find ways of making this clear- is Easter. This is the moment of new creation. If it hadn’t been for Easter, nobody would ever have dreamt of celebrating Christmas. This is the first day of God’s new week. The darkness has gone, and the sun is shining.”
Tom Wright, ‘John for Everyone’
So this is my mission, and the adventure I’m inviting you into. The adventure of making Easter more than a time of year where we eat chocolate and watch reruns. Making the Easter season the central holiday season in our calendar that seasons the rest of our year with the long story of grace.
Easter, Lent, it’s the season to surround ourselves with story, the old, long, deep and wide story of God’s long walk to the cross. Why? Because we need this, this story that heals, strengthens and whispers hope. And the wonderful news is that this season of story and hope and new life comes around every year, visiting us right where we are, inviting us into the celebration and story of God’s journey to free us, find us and invite us into His family.
So, alongside the story of this long walk, long story of grace, I’m sending you small ways you can live in and live out this story during this season, creative new ways to bring the Easter season alive in your daily rhythms and family life, ways you can immerse yourself in the storyline of grace. Right here in this corner of the Long Walk you’ll be finding suggestions for new traditions for this oldest of stories; the old story of grace that makes everything new.
Let’s find new refreshment in Him this Easter, staying in the long story of grace.
A New Tradition Celebrating The Old Story
New Adventures in Fasting
(Giving Instead of Giving up)
As you may know, a time honoured tradition during Lent is the spiritual discipline of fasting, the practice of giving something up for forty days just as Christ fasted in the desert for forty days. Usually small things are given up, like wine, television, mayonnaise or chocolate, the peripheral treats that we treat ourselves with normally.
But this Easter season, I’m putting something new on the table. I’m inviting you into a different sort of fast, a new way of ’giving up’, an upside-down, inside-out way of fasting. A new adventure.
I’m going to suggest that Instead of giving up something for Lent, we might simply give, give to God, not just an absence of something, but a presence. Our presence with Him. Our presence partnering with Him in this world.
Instead of creating a small absence by abstaining from something in our own lives through fasting, what if we were to bring the presence of Jesus into the absences around us in the lives of others?
Instead of the spiritual tradition of abstaining and absence lets practice the spiritual discipline of presence. Presence with God. Presence with one another. Presence in the grieving, lonely places in this world that have sat in darkness too long.
Instead of simply giving something up, what would happen if we were to simply give? Give to God something He truly wants this Easter season…
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Christmas has often been called the season of giving, but so much of the lavish giving we do at Christmas remains among ourselves… family, friends, and those within in our circle.
Let’s make this Easter season, Lent, the season when we give beyond our circles, beyond ourselves, when we cross the line into the lives of others, the lives of those on the list above from Isaiah 58, the brokenhearted-close-to-breaking ones whom God carries close to His heart. Let’s fast the way God longs for us to… by giving up ourselves to be used by Him.
Just to get you started here are five suggestions of simple ways you might begin the spiritual disciple of ‘giving up’ by giving this Lent, this Easter Season. Follow the link to find out more…
A New Tradition Celebrating The Old Story
The Easter Story Wreath
A New Tradition Telling the long Story of Grace
Because Easter is the season to surround ourselves with story (the old, long, deep and wide story of God’s long walk to the cross) here is one little way you might keep the story alive in your home this season.
Alongside the story of this long walk, the long story of grace, I’m inviting you into a fun activity that might just become a new family tradition: A Story Wreath walking out the long story of Easter week by week. This is a simple craft activity for you and/or your whole household to work on together. An activity that is more than a craft, more than a project. This story-wreath might just become a whispering reminder, nestled there in the centre of your table, the middle of your door, or right there on your wall; gently nudging you throughout your week to stay in the long story of grace.
I’ve also collected together Scriptures that tell this long story, every week adding a new layer to the journey as you add new layers to the story of grace unfurling in your wreath.
Below are simple instructions to make the wreath and suggested decorations to add to it week by week.
Let’s stay in the long story of grace together this Easter season!
Wreath Making Instructions…
The Long Story in Scripture Booklet…