#10 - Reclaiming Easter (Part 2) - Regaining the High Ground

In the whole of human experience Easter towers above all other feasts, celebrations, holidays because the cross alone offers forgiveness, restoration and resurrection to us individually and to all our broken struggling relationships. Yet we humans spend comparatively greater amounts of time, money and energy in celebrating Christmas rather than Easter. We can correct the imbalance and this 3 part series talks about ways to do just that.
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Regaining the High Ground
Guest:                         Barbara Rainey        
From the series:       Reclaiming Easter (Day 2 of 4)
Air date:                     March 17, 2015
Bob: The cross is the universal symbol of the Christian faith; but through the years and in different countries, all around the world, there have been different styles of crosses that have represented Christianity. Barbara Rainey says, “That’s a good thing.”
Barbara: Jesus is universal—He’s not American / He’s not Western. He’s for everyone—from every tongue, and every tribe and every nation, from every era. I wanted to have crosses that were international—that sort of brought us back to the idea that Jesus is for all people, for all time. Christ has been pushing into country after country, around the world, since He left us. The message is continuing to go on into every nation and every language.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. This is the season of the year when all of us should be surveying the wondrous cross. We’ll talk on today’s program about how we can make the cross more central to our celebration of Easter. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. The guy, who leads worship at our church, knows that, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, he is going to be leading two hymns: “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” and—
Dennis: I want to guess! It’s one of the Gettys’ songs.
Bob: No.
Dennis: Really!?
Bob: “We Gather Together.”
Dennis: But you’re kind of a Getty groupie.
Bob: I would not call me a groupie. [Laughter]
Dennis: A Getty groupie—that kind of has a sound to it; doesn’t it?
Bob: I am—I have a great appreciation for their work, and we sing a lot of their hymns in our worship service. But on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, it’s always “We Gather Together” and “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.”
The next Sunday, which is always the first Sunday of Advent, we always sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and we sing “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” You have to sing those on the first Sunday in Advent. 
On Palm Sunday, which is coming up, here in a couple of weeks—on Palm Sunday, we always sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor, to Thee Redeemer King.” Do you remember that song? It’s about the kids and the palm branches. [Singing] “All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer King!” Have you heard this?
Dennis: Vaguely.
Barbara: Yes!
Bob: [Singing] “…to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.” There is something about those traditions. Michael, the worship leader, is very gracious to indulge us older folks who say, “We have to sing these things.” [Laughter] There’s something about those traditions that are rich with meaning.
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: No doubt about it. And the voice you’re hearing say, “Amen,” over here is my wife, Barbara. 
Welcome back to the broadcast.
Barbara: Thank you.
Dennis: The most requested guest we have on FamilyLife Today. In fact—
Bob: Dennis requests you every time he can. He says, “Can we have Barbara on some more?” [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes! No doubt about it. [Laughter]
We’re all about Easter and wanting to regain the high ground—
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: —the holy ground for the Easter season. You’ve got a big idea, Barbara. It’s all about contrasting what Christmas is all about with Easter—just kind of calling families to focus on something really fresh and new this Easter season.
Barbara: Well, my big idea is that God would grant us the favor in helping us, as believers, raise our awareness of the importance of the holiday of Easter. We put so much energy, money, time, and effort into Christmas—and there’s nothing wrong with that—but, by comparison, we spend very little time, very little money, very little energy, and very little preparation to celebrate the greatest moment of history, which is Resurrection Sunday.
I’m hopeful that, over the course of time, as God grants favor, that we can help believers understand the importance of this holiday—the magnificence of what Christ has done for us—and then help them understand some new and fun ways that they can celebrate that day and make it meaningful because, as you just said, Bob, it’s their traditions that help tie those things to hearts. The more our kids understand the truth of why we celebrate / why we do what we do, the more it becomes embedded in their hearts and in their souls. They go: “This is important! This has to mean something; otherwise, Mom and Dad and the other adults wouldn’t have made such a big deal about it.”
Dennis: You know, we spend the entire month of December preparing for Christmas Day—it’s all about giving. You think we need to be spending the weeks, leading up to Easter, focusing on what theme around Easter?
Barbara: Focusing on the theme of forgiveness. 
Forgiveness is something we all need. We all need it, individually, because we all have offended God, at our core, because of our selfishness. We all, individually, need forgiveness. 
Every one of us needs forgiveness, and we need to understand how it works—we need to understand how to give it / how to grant it—we need to understand the whole process because, in relationships with people, we need to practice forgiveness—so in your marriage / in your home with your kids—your kids need to learn how to forgive one another—at school with kids on the playground, and classmates, and bullies, and teachers who aren’t fair, and all of that stuff—business relationships. We all need to understand and practice forgiveness—those of us who are called by Christ—focusing on forgiveness at Easter because of what Christ did for us and then the practical application into our lives of how we can be better forgivers.
Dennis: And I think that’s what a family is all about—that is following Christ—is learning how to forgive and love people, just as God, in Christ, loved and forgave us.
Bob: And this is something that has been a passion of yours for—well, it’s a growing passion—because I’ve heard you talk about this pretty much every spring for the last couple of years, at least.
Barbara: Right.
Bob: You have been raising the banner on Easter—
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: —and saying: “Let’s draw some attention to this holiday. Let’s use it as a discipling tool in our home.”
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: And not just for our kids because our hearts need to be drawn back to this theme as well.
Barbara: Oh, absolutely. Yes, I think that it is a growing thing for me—it is a growing passion that I have. When our children were little, I remember wanting to make more of Easter and wanted to do more for Easter; but I didn’t really know what to do, and I was so busy and overwhelmed, and so I couldn’t—I didn’t do anything.
Dennis: So you’ve created something called Behold the Lamb.
Barbara: Yes. After our kids left, I had the time and the freedom to be able to think creatively, “What would I have liked to have had, when I was a mom, raising kids?” 
One of the things that we created is Behold the Lamb. It comes in this cute little metal tin—inside are eight cards. What I like about those is—I can picture myself doing that with my kids, when they were at home and they were growing up, because each of them have a very short little lesson—I guess, for lack of a better word—that you can probably read in three minutes/four minutes. It doesn’t take very long.
Dennis: I’ve done it with our grandkids.
Barbara: Yes.
Dennis: They’re all around the statements that Christ made: “I AM.”
Barbara: Exactly.
Dennis: “I am the Messiah,” “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the Door.” I took one of our grandkids through this—it took me less than five minutes. I know because my grandchild stayed on my lap the entire time and didn’t crawl off.
Barbara: Yes.
Dennis: It was interesting that you were able to communicate the importance of what it meant when Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life,” in a practical way to him—or her—and bring them into the celebration of Easter.
Barbara: Yes; it gives moms and dads something that’s very easy to do— 
—pick out a card, read a card as the kids are packing their lunches or you’re eating breakfast or whatever. Just read it very quickly or have one of your kids read it while you’re driving in the car to school. It sort of sets the tone, not only for the day, but it’s a way to do something meaningful every day of Holy Week, leading up to Easter.
Bob: Yes. You mentioned there are eight of these cards. The thought would be that you could get the cardholder out—
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: —on Palm Sunday.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: That would be when you would read the first of the eight cards.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: One a day; and then, on Easter Sunday, eight days later, you get to “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” You get a chance to unfold the resurrection of Christ; right?
Barbara: Correct. What it does is—it allows you, as parents, to engage your kids in the meaning of Easter on those days leading up to Easter. There’s something to read every day for those eight days up until Easter Sunday. 
Bob: Is this something you can read to a five-year-old, or a ten- year-old, or a fifteen-year-old?
Barbara: I think you can read to as young as a five year-olds, yes—through eighteen. You know, the eighteen-year-olds—I don’t think they’re going to be bored by it because it’s short—they’re not going to roll their eyes and go, “Oh, it’s another story about David and Goliath!” These are stories about what Christ did each of the days of His last week of life. So, when you look at that and you think about Jesus coming into the Temple, an eighteen-year-old/sixteen-year-old—they can imagine what that might have been like because He knew He was about to be executed.
Bob: Yes.
Barbara: As you lead your children into thinking about these, you just don’t know, when they get off the bus or when they’re walking between classes, what they’re thinking about. It’s a way to invest, spiritually, in your children, leading up to Easter.
Dennis: You actually got an email from a radio listener—.
Barbara: I did!
Dennis: —who wrote quite a story about a little boy by the name of Nathan.
Barbara: Nathan, yes. 
His mom wrote a really long story about the whole process, but the bottom line is that she used the Behold the Lamb cards. As God would have it, when they read the Palm Sunday story, Nathan decided that that was the impetus for him wanting to receive Christ. 
Dennis: Yes, I’m reading it. The little boy turned to his mom and said: “Mom, you’re talking about things that are eternal. When I die, will I go to heaven?” So it gave the mom an opportunity to talk about how Jesus is the door—He is the way, the truth, and the life. He’s how you get to heaven, and you can have a personal relationship with Him. She led him to Christ, at that point. It was the end of a lot of conversations she had had with that little boy.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: These cards can go back in the card holder, but you’ve also—you’ve got—what is it?—a chain? 
Barbara: Yes; if you buy it, it comes with what we call a “chain garland.” It’s a chain that has 15 little metal clips. You can clip the cards on the chain and hang it on your fireplace mantle or you can hang it on a wall—or you can put little push pin tacks on the wall and hang it on that. It’s a way that you can—almost like counting down the days to Christmas. 
You hang up a card, one each day, until Easter Sunday.
Bob: Yes.
Barbara: Kids like that. Kids like counting down the days until—I mean, they count the days until their birthday, they count down the days until school is out, and they count down the days until they can go to camp. There’s something about building anticipation that’s important for all of us. As you read these cards and you hang them up, one by one, you’re building the sense of anticipation for the grand finale, which is Easter Sunday. It helps prepare kids’ hearts for understanding that this is really a big deal.
Bob: I was counting down the days to the jelly beans.
Barbara: Yes, jelly beans at Easter. 
Bob: You didn’t like jelly beans?!
Barbara: No, I didn’t like jelly beans.
Bob: Did you like— 
Barbara: Chocolate eggs! [Laughter]
Dennis: You’ve got to keep in mind that this was before they created the kind of jelly beans they have today.
Bob: The gourmet jelly beans!
Dennis: Yes, no doubt about it.
Barbara: Well, I might have liked the gourmet jelly beans, but I didn’t like the originals. [Laughter]
Bob: In addition to the garland that’s hanging in the home—that is reminding you that Easter is just around the corner, you also have designed crosses. 
Listeners, who were listening at Christmastime, remember that we talked about seven crosses/ornaments that could be hung on your Christmas tree. They’re called Adorenaments®. 
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: You actually had Easter in mind when you made the Christmas ornaments; right?
Barbara: We did because the thing about the names of Christ that I think is so important is that we need to know the names of Christ every day of the year, not just at Christmas or not just at some other holiday. We need to be reminded of who He is and what He has done for us.
When we created the crosses, we wanted to be able to find a way for them to be displayed at Easter. As we decorate our homes for Christmas, we wanted to have some things that people could put up at Easter that, again, are visual reminders that help us remember what the Easter holiday is all about. 
We have a set of three crosses for Easter. You can put them on your dining room table and create a really nice arrangement, say on Palm Sunday, and it is there all week. 
It’s a reminder to the family, all week long, that: “This is Easter week,” / “This is Holy week. This is really a big deal.” You can put them on your kitchen counter—you can line them up in a window or put them on the fireplace mantle. The sky’s the limit, really, as to how you want to use them.
Bob: You’re not hanging them on a tree
Barbara: No.
Bob: You’ve got stands for them—
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: —so they can sit on the stands. They’re three different heights—
Barbara: Yes, they’re graduated heights.
Bob: —so there’s a little bit of an artistic touch to it; right?
Barbara: Exactly! That was very nice of you—I appreciate that. [Laughter]
Dennis: And the cool thing about this is—when Barbara set out to create Adorenaments, she did so around the names of Christ. The first year was around His Christmas names, from Luke and Isaiah.
Barbara: Yes.
Dennis: The next year was His royal names—each of the Adorenaments is in the shape of a different crown. This year, you’ve chosen different crosses from different periods/different eras of church history. Each of these three crosses bears a different name.
Barbara: Correct. One of the reasons that—it was really fun to do, I have to say—to do the research on all the different kinds of crosses. If you’ve not ever done it, just google “crosses” and look at how many different shapes, and sizes, and designs there are. It’s very fascinating, but it was fun to do the research. Part of the reason I wanted to do it is because Jesus is universal—He’s not American / He’s not Western. He’s for everyone—from every tribe, and every tongue, and every nation—from every era. I wanted to have crosses that were international—that sort of brought us back to the idea that Jesus is for all people, for all time. 
We have a Celtic cross. We have an Armenian cross. We have an Ethiopian cross. We have the Jerusalem cross. The idea is—
Dennis: One of them is right here—it’s the anchor cross.
Barbara: Oh, yes. I forgot the anchor cross. The idea is that each shape of the cross also has history to it because Christ has been pushing into country after country, around the world, since He left us. The message is continuing to go on into every nation and every language.
Bob: The three names that you’ve selected to display at Eastertime are Great High Priest, Mediator, and Messiah.
Barbara: Yes, correct.
Bob: Messiah is one we all know—Jesus is the Messiah. That’s pretty common.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: But I’m not sure that people really stop and think about what it means that Jesus was—and is—the Messiah, the Promised One of God.
Barbara: Yes. What is so interesting is that Jesus was promised, from the very beginning. I don’t think that’s as common to all of us, as believers, as it should be. From the very beginning, He was promised—the Jewish people knew it. They knew He was promised, and they looked for centuries for the coming Messiah. They knew that the Messiah was going to come and deliver them. 
Messiah actually means “Anointed One” in Hebrew. It also means “Savior.” The term, “Messiah,” was a term that was used often in the Bible to refer to this “Coming One.” 
We know Him as Jesus—Jewish believers know Him as Jesus. But most of the Jews do not know who He is yet—they still think He is yet to come.
Bob: Jews in the Old Testament had developed a picture of who the coming Messiah would be—what He would look like / what He would act like.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: It was really just one aspect of His Messianic ministry.
Barbara: Yes, the Jews in the Old Testament thought the Messiah was going to come as a conquering King—He was going to deliver them. They had been oppressed over, and over, and over again. They really hung onto those prophecies of Him coming as their deliverer; but they overlooked the fact that Jesus is also spoken of, in the Old Testament, as one who was going to come and be their “Suffering Servant.” He was also going to be their sacrifice. That missed their eyes and their understanding—most of them.
Bob: Which is why—when Jesus was declared as the Messiah /when people said, “Could He be the Messiah?” others looked and said, “No, He can’t be because He’s not here with a sword.”
Barbara: —“with a sword.”
Bob: “He’s not here on a horse, charging in and toppling political structures.”
Barbara: Yes.
Dennis: “He’s not a politician.”
Bob: There is a day coming when He’ll come on a horse with a sword.
Barbara: He will! That’s right.
Bob: So His Messianic ministry will fulfill that picture.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: But they missed the first coming; didn’t they?
Barbara: They did. That’s a part of why Easter is such a wonderful celebration because we, not only celebrate what He did for us on the cross, but we celebrate that He’s coming back because that first part of what He was to do is fulfilled and now we’re waiting on the second part—we’re waiting on Him to come back again.
I think, at Easter, we not only celebrate what He did for us in the past, but it’s a time to look forward to what He is going to do in the future. It may be a very near future too. We’ve been waiting for a long time, and it may be just around the corner. That makes celebrating Easter even more fun.
Dennis: It does. And I don’t think I’ve asked you, even though I watched you create these: “Why did you pick the anchor cross?”—which is really pretty interesting; isn’t it Bob? I don’t think I’d ever seen this until Barbara created this—but it’s a cross that, literally, is in the shape of an anchor—I didn’t know there was one. “Where did you find it; and why did you decide to put ‘Messiah’ on that cross?”
Barbara: Well, two answers to that question. As I was looking through for different shapes of crosses, I found the anchor cross. When I saw it, I remembered that, when I was a child and I went through confirmation class in my church—I don’t know if it was my parents or somebody else—but somebody gave me a charm for my charm bracelet. Charm bracelets were really a big deal then. The charm consisted of three small charms, all looped together on one ring. There was a cross, which represented faith; there was a heart, which represented love; and then there was an anchor.
At the time, I had no idea what the anchor meant; but I came to learn that the anchor represents hope. In 1 Corinthians, we hear “faith, hope, and love, these three.”
So, faith is the cross, love is the heart, and the anchor is hope. There’s a verse in Hebrews, where it talks about Jesus being “the anchor of our soul.” It talks about—we have hope because of Jesus being the anchor. It was just obvious to put “Messiah” on the anchor cross because the Messiah is our Savior—He is our hope / He is our anchor. Because of Him, we can be sure and we can have a steadfast faith that will not waver because of what He has done for us.
Bob: Each of these ornaments that you can display on a stand—there is a card for each one that explains, not only the name that’s displayed, but a little bit about the cross. If your kids are looking and say, “That looks like an anchor,” you have an opportunity, as a mom or a dad to say, “Well, let me read this to you,” and explain to them what’s going on.
Barbara: Yes; because I think we have lost—in the modern church, we have lost a lot of our historical Christianity. The anchor cross has been around almost since the time of Christ. 
It’s been around for a long, long time. I had forgotten all about it. I don’t think too many people even know what it stands for and why it’s important. I think we need to recapture some of that. I’m hopeful that the focus on Jesus as our Messiah and He is also our anchor—He holds our faith steadfast because of what He does—I hope that becomes more common knowledge in the church as we talk about who He is and what He did.
Dennis: And I think one of the things we don’t talk a lot about today is the Savior’s different names. You know, each of these names gives us a different facet. It’s almost like He is a diamond and each of these names is a facet of His glory and of His character. You come to know Him by virtue of His names, and what He’s like, and who He is—then, passing those names onto our children to introduce them to Him as well.
Messiah gets at the heart of the issue. He came to save us from our sins—that’s what Easter is all about. 
Bob: And I really think people need to get a visual of what we’ve been talking about. I mean, we can describe the resources you’ve been working on, Barbara, but folks need to see what these crosses look like—what the anchor cross looks like, and what the Ethiopian cross looks like, and the stands that they can hang on, and the other resources that you’ve been working on. There’s the Easter banner—there’s the Behold the Lamb chain with the cards that attach to that. You’ve got a lot of Easter resources that you’ve been working on. 
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: If folks go to EverThineHome.com, they can see the complete collection. We’ve put a website together so that folks can see all that you’ve been doing. Again, it is EverThineHome.com to see FamilyLife’s collection of resources that have been designed by Barbara Rainey. 
You can also call if you have any questions about these resources, or you can order over the phone. Our toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.” Or, again, go to the Ever Thine Home website, which is EverThineHome.com.
You know, we have talked, for years, here on FamilyLife Today, about how strategic holidays can be in a family’s life—how you can take advantage of these naturally-occurring dates on a calendar to share biblical truth with your kids—use as a discipling opportunity. In fact, it was a couple of decades ago that we developed a resource called Resurrection Eggs® that puts symbols from Holy Week in these 12 eggs and allow children to learn the Easter story by opening these eggs, one egg at a time, and learning what the donkey means, and learning why there’s a crown of thorns, or learning why there are nails included in the eggs.
We’ve heard some great stories about how parents and grandparents have used this resource with their children, their grandchildren, neighbor kids, kids at school. We thought, this year, we’d love to send a set of Resurrection Eggs to any listener who will put these eggs to good use. If you’d like a set, all we would ask is that you would make a donation to help support this ministry; and we are happy to send a set to you. We are listener-supported—we depend on your donations to do the work we do. If you will go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click the link that says, “I CARE,” and make an online donation—be as generous as you can possibly be—we will send you a set of Resurrection Eggs as our thank-you gift for your financial support. 
Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “I CARE,” and make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone and request a set of Resurrection Eggs. 
Of course, you can mail a donation to FamilyLife at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223. Make sure you let us know that you are interested in a set of Resurrection Eggs when you mail a donation, and we’ll get them mailed to you. 
And we hope you can join us again tomorrow when we’re going to talk more about the names of Jesus that we ought to be meditating on as we head toward the celebration of His resurrection. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 
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