President Hinckley once said: “What a glorious day is Easter! This is the day when we, with Christian people everywhere, celebrate the most significant event in human history—the resurrection from the grave, the return to life from death, of the Son of God” (“The Victory Over Death,” April 1985 General Conference). I have often wondered how I can make my Easter celebration more meaningful. Sometimes when March or April and the Easter season roll around, it’s been months since the fuss of Christmas but I still am not ready for another big holiday.
In some ways because Easter is a little less commercialized than Christmas and less seeped with traditions, it can be an opportunity to have a more quiet and devout celebration of what President Hinckley called “the most significant event in human history.” In celebrating Christmas, we celebrate the Savior’s coming to the world, but in celebrating Easter we celebrate his resurrection and victory over death and the completion of the atonement—the fulfillment of the mission that He came to earth to do.
Just as each December we strive to keep Christ in Christmas, here are a few ideas about how, during this Easter season, to keep “our thoughts turn[ed] to Him who atoned for our sins, who showed us the way to live, how to pray, and who demonstrated by His own actions how we might do so. Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, the Son of God beckons to each of us to follow Him” (President Thomas S. Monson, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives!,” April 2007 General Conference).
1. Study the Scriptures about Easter
Many families have an advent reading schedule for Christmas or at least read about the Savior’s birth on Christmas Eve. Consider making a tradition of scripture reading for Easter. You could even follow the last week of the Savior’s life. Here is a list of applicable scriptures to get you started:
- Matthew 27:57–66; 28:1–20;
- Mark 15:16–20, 40–47; 16:1–20;
- Luke 22:44; 23:44–46, 50–56; 24:1–53;
- John 6:51; 10:17; 19:38–42; 20:1–18; 21:1–25;
- Romans 6:9
- 1 Peter 2:21
- 1 Nephi 11:33
- 2 Nephi 2:7
- Mosiah 26:23
- Alma 11:42
- 3 Nephi 8:5–7, 17–18, 20–22;
- Mormon 7:5
Personalize your Easter scripture reading for you and your family. Another idea would be to read the entire Gospels and/or 3 Nephi in the weeks leading up to Easter .
2. Keep Your Easter Sunday Holy
Consider moving your hunts and basket giving to Saturday so that you can have a Christ-focused Easter Sabbath. You can have time for eggs, bunnies, and candy on Saturday and focus on the real reason for Easter on Sunday.
3. Celebrate with Easter Hymns
We don’t have as many Easter hymns as Christmas hymns, but we have several on pages 197-200 of the hymnbook. There are also Easter songs in the Children’s Songbook on pages 64-70. You may want to sing and/or learn these songs during family home evenings leading up to Easter or even carol them on Easter day.
4. Read the Church Magazines
The Church magazines generally have special issues focused on the Savior during the month of Easter. That means more Christ-focused stories and activities for children, teens, and adults, if you receive all three magazines. I always love the Christmas stories in the December Church magazines; the April magazines are likewise focused on gratitude for the Savior’s life.
5. Enjoy a Church Video about the Life of Christ
We watch Christmas movies; try enjoying Finding Faith in Christ, The Lamb of God, or another Church film this Easter season. Special Witnesses of Christ would be another great choice as the apostles testify of Jesus Christ.
6. Watch or Review Easter Sessions of General Conference
In 2010 Easter fell on the Sunday Sessions of General Conference, but in 2011 Easter will not occur until three weeks after General Conference. The coincidence of Easter falling on General Conference brings a special spirit to General Conference. You could look back at past years and read or listen to talks from these special sessions.
There are other special Easter Sundays in the history of the Restored Church. In 1980, Easter Sunday fell on April 6, which was also the weekend of General Conference. President Hinckley gave a special talk on that day commemorating these three events, entitled “What Hath God Wrought through His Servant Joseph!” You may also remember that the Priesthood was restored on Easter in 1836 when Elijah returned and appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland temple. The Ensign ran a handful of articles by Dr. John P.Pratt about the symbolism of these events several years ago. If you want to learn more about these events, be sure to take a look at these articles:
• “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter,” Ensign, June 1985.
• “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 2: Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah’s Return,” Ensign, July 1985.
• “Passover—Was It Symbolic of His Coming?” Ensign, January 1994.
7. Ponder and Share Your Testimony of Jesus Christ
Easter is a great time to contemplate your own testimony of Jesus Christ. Accept the challenge to rekindle and bear your testimony of the Savior during this season. Share your testimony in sacrament meeting, family home evening, or even your personal journal.
I hope that these ideas are just the start of focusing your Easter celebrations on Jesus Christ this year. President Uchtdorf has said: “It is fitting that during the week from Palm Sunday to Easter morning we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life, and love. . . . He gave us His gospel, a pearl beyond price. . . . The gospel is the good news of Christ. . . . The gospel is the way of discipleship. As we walk in that way, we can experience confidence and joy” (“The Way of the Disciple,” April 2009 General Conference).