Over the last few days, I’ve seen many a Facebook message and event go out advertising “Easter Egg Hunts” at churches and houses of worship. Usually they begin with the following types of tag lines:
“Have nowhere to go this Sunday? Come on over to _______ Presbyterian/Reformed/Congregational church for an Easter Egg Hunt!”
Now, I’m sure that Jesus enjoys plasticized, break in half neon colored eggs filled with chocolate candies and jelly beans just as much as the next five, six and seven year old, but is that really what should be happening this Sunday? Is that really the type of activity our houses of worship should be holding come Easter Sunday?
The reality is, a vast number of Americans come to church on a choice number of Sundays each year – Christmas, and this coming Sunday, the celebration of our risen Lord Jesus Christ, Easter. To expect regular attendance would mean a competition with soccer, lacrosse, hockey practices, sleeping in (aka being bedside baptists, morning methodists, etc.) after a night out partying, just plain inconvenience, lack of belief, doubt, or what have you.
Sure, God loves the pomp and circumstance, the brass, pageants, frilly dresses, and I’m sure that he is glad people come to church when they can to praise and thank Him for everything, even if out of familial obligation once or twice a year. Usually, Easter celebrations are filled with extra flowers, usually more beautiful than the average Sunday, dramatic music, and an even lengthier sermon (which the children especially appreciate, I’m sure…NOT!).
But the tone of church drastically changes when Sunday Services turn into a secular Easter Bunny celebration. There is no Easter Bunny in Scripture. No, the Easter Bunny did NOT come and greet Jesus at the Cross, nor did he/she come to the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene when she discovered that the stone had been rolled away in John 20.
Perhaps we as a church run immediately toward Easter Egg hunts for our children on Easter, leaning to the image of the Easter Bunny rather than the miraculous image of our risen Lord out of fear of scarring children with the gruesome depictions of a crucified human deity who is Christ. Yet, why are we choosing to protect kids from what the Bible teaches with more palatable Marshmallow Peeps and sour Jelly Beans? Yes, granted the crucifixion is scary, and the idea of a resurrection is difficult for young children to figure out, but how often are we really and properly teaching kids using these Easter Egg Hunts at church what the true meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection means? Maybe these hunts are just an opportunity to have kids over, let them run around and hop them up on sugary treats before sicking them back on their parents…
One Christian advocate for Easter Egg Hunts at churches makes the claim that pastors should include scripture passages in the eggs instead of candy during these hunts. Ok…good idea, except how many 3-8 year olds are actually going to want to continue to hunt for the eggs after realizing there isn’t any yummy candy inside? My guess is not too many. [This also makes a statement and assumption regarding his denomination, audience and the level of scriptural capacity of his congregation versus the majority of mainline Protestant congregations elsewhere in the United States. Let’s be honest here.]
My summation? Keep the Easter Egg Hunts in your homes, on Easter day morning, and keep Jesus out of it. It is a lovely tradition, and definitely something I enjoyed as a child, apart from my Sunday mornings in church with my family. But Jesus and the Easter Bunny have nothing to do with one another, and to force them together is simply not a good nor theologically acceptable connection to be making for children. Don’t force Jesus into it.
However, and here I go again…playing Devil’s advocate…if it is at all possible to make this hunt a tool for evangelism and outreach, then by all means do so. But this should be the motivation for the activity.
So where am I landing on this topic? Don’t just willy nilly have an egg hunt at church unless it is being used as a tool for education and evangelism. It can be confusing for kids, and can make them think that the Easter Bunny comes to church. Instead, make it an opportunity to include scripture, teaching about why Easter happens every year, and why they should come to church. If these motivations are NOT behind your Easter Egg Hunt, DON’T DO IT! STEP AWAY FROM THE PLASTIC EGGS IN YOUR FELLOWSHIP HALL AND TELL YOUR KIDDOS TO GO HOME!
Remember that church is not your home, but one of those places that we as the body of Christ gather together to worship God. Therefore, everything that happens at church should be done for the glorification and worship of God and God alone, not humans. This is important and necessary to remember, both for you as a leader, as a parent, as a friend, and as a member of the body of Christ.
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