For many, the entire week before and during Easter is one of spiritual power. They spend the week focusing their hearts and attention on the atonement of Jesus Christ, and they contemplate what it means to them. Then Easter comes, the baskets are opened, the eggs are found, and the Easter service ends. The pretty new dresses and fancy suits are put away…until next Easter?
For some, Christmas and Easter church attendance are traditions and little more, something they do twice a year and that’s all. For others, church attendance is a weekly event, but once that hour or so is over, so is their Christian lifestyle. And yet, Christianity was meant to be carried out all year long. The messages of Christmas and Easter weren’t designed to make us feel good for an hour—they were meant to change our lives, every year, every day, every hour.
It’s the day after Easter. Now what?
As the editor for the articles on this website, I have had the opportunity to read every Easter article submitted very carefully, usually more than once. I read them when I receive them, when I place them here, when they are released, and sometimes I go back and read them again just because of what they are teaching me.
I’ve wept over some, stopped and outlined plans for change because of others, and realized, once again that Easter will take all year to carry out. I’ve been making a list of the challenges our writers have offered us for the coming year—and forever.
Nanette noted last week that for Mormons, it’s Holy Week all year. “Holy Week happens every Sunday for the Latter-day Saint—even every day when a Latter-day Saint is serving her fellow man.” In her first Easter article, she outlined the things we can do all year to keep the holiness we sense during Holy Week all year long:
- Follow the Savior, even when it’s hard.
- Find strength in the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Put aside the desire to judge others.
- Become your brother’s keeper.
- Become a true disciple.
- Increase our love for the Savior.
- Improve our ability and longing to follow Jesus Christ.
Forgiving: Not Just for Easter
Patty asked us to take the time to forgive our family members who have hurt us so that our Easter gathering can be more meaningful and filled with love. She noted that it isn’t always easy, but that our children deserve these special memories. She suggested we lighten up on the elaborate festivities and keep things simple so we can focus more on the things that matter.
Family is a strengthening force. When relationships are good, they are an unequaled source of support and guidance. And with Easter approaching this is a great time to try to better our relationships with our families. It’s not healthy to hold onto grudges and past injuries. And the next generation is looking to us for an example of how to behave. Our kindness will not go unnoticed. And the strengthened family will bless every member of it.
Don’t Forget Jesus When Planning Your Easter Celebration
Then I read Krystal’s article. She caught herself getting so wound up about the secular part of Easter she nearly got carried away. She wrote about how she slowed down and realized she needed to teach her little daughter the real meaning of Easter by starting some spiritual Easter traditions. She suggested a wonderful list of things we can do to put Christ back into our Easter—on Easter and all year long.
“I use the [resurrection] eggs as décor around the house so amidst the egg hunts and visits to see the Easter bunny we can remember the true meaning of Easter because the resurrection eggs are all around us. I am not against egg hunts or anything like that. It’s important to do those fun things also. We love dyeing eggs at our house, and I have an embarrassing weakness to Reese’s Peanut butter eggs…but I will try a little harder to make a point to really focus on the Savior and all he did for us. I also hope to carry that spirit of Easter all year long.
The Atonement Helps Us Forgive the Very Worst Things
I had known Valerie’s article was coming months ago, and when I read it, I was so moved I completely forgot to format it. It took me three reads before I remembered I was supposed to be the editor, not just a reader. Valerie is a convert to Christianity and she wrote that one-fourth of her family was lost to Hitler’s vicious attack on the Jewish people.
At first, that was so painful to her she couldn’t talk about it or face it. When she learned about the atonement of Jesus Christ, however, she found what she needed to forgive—and even to forgive Hitler.
Forgive Ourselves on Easter
Finally, like bookends on our favorite shelf, we return to Nanette, who wrapped up our Easter celebration with the reminder that we can be forgiven by Jesus, no matter how many mistakes we’ve made. The atonement is for us, too.
Peter denied Christ three times during the night before His crucifixion. He wept bitterly because of it. But after His resurrection, Christ sat with Peter and entrusted his church to him. If Peter can be forgiven, so can we.
Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves, strengthening the role of our Savior in our lives…Easter at LDSBlogs.com has reminded us that, as Nanette said, it’s Holy Week every week. Let’s remember as we move forward into the spring.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.