Last year I found instructions from Christina Fox on to make a Resurrection Tree. We have made our own modified ornaments the last two years leading up to Easter. As we have made the individual ornaments, we read through most the corresponding Bible stories using Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible. The ornaments trace the covenantal stories of God’s rescue in the Bible- such as the Fall, the Flood, the near sacrifice and rescue of Isaac,the ladder to heaven Jacob saw coming down, Joseph’s cost of many colors, the Passover lamb, David’s crown. The stories of the manger, the woman breaking the perfume bottle before Christ’s death, the bread and wine of the last supper- the commencement of communion, the cross, the empty tomb are part of this collection.
My daughter has heard these stories for several years now. I was thrilled when she saw the ram from Abraham’s story and she said, “Mom, there has to be thorns around the ram because it was caught in the bushes.” I knew she was listening and remembering the stories when she could remind me of such details. We put our tree together, tying the simple picture ornaments onto white, spray-painted tree branches and placed them in a large glass candle holder. The girls love looking at the tree with its symbolic decorations and I like the visible display of each story showing God’s pattern of rescue. I love having it right in the middle of our living room where they can climb up and look at it and talk about the resurrection. It has a spring-like feel and as part of the decorations, we intertwine our faith into our every day life. I’m constantly stressing in a world full of bunnies and Easter eggs and chocolate and bright colors to make sure my kids know what we really celebrate on Easter. I want my kids to participate in things like Easter egg hunts but I want to make sure that they can grow up distinguishing the differences between perfectly good fun and eternal truth.
I love that the ornaments on the tree focus on what Christ has done for us. I love that they all point to the cross, to the tomb. I love that each one of them shows that Christ alone is the way we have peace and a hope of heaven. I remember, as a child, reading and not understanding the story of Jacob and the ladder. I remember reading the story later on and realizing that God was showing Jacob that the only way to get to heaven is through Him, that He was extending that ladder as a foreshadowing of Christ. I love that each of these ornaments shows a symbol Christ throughout the progression of Bible, that each one points to Christ as our rescuer.
We live in a world where we want to be rescued- from sadness, from terrorism, from natural disasters, from cancer, from other sicknesses, from financial hardship. I want to be rescued and safe from these things. While we long to be rescued, but often times were looking in the wrong places and hoping in the wrong things. We are looking at the Easter eggs were looking at the chocolate bunnies and we’re not looking to Christ.
Easter is that fantastic time of year when we can remember exactly what Christ has done, that he has rescued us. We are reminded clearly that we live in that already/not yet, where we are rescued if we believe in Christ and we have future hope. One day he will come again and take away the sadness, and wipe away tears, get rid of the sickness, of evil, and of the things don’t have to be the way that they are right now.
One of my favorite Easter hymns is from the Gettys, See What a Morning. The hymn traces the narrative of Mary in the garden waiting for the gardener to tell her what has been done with Jesus’ body. She is broken hearted and she is grieving. The story shows the human experience of faith. I can picture myself as Mary, having come to say goodbye to a beloved friend, with an ache inside, believing all hope has evaporated. And there in the garden, blinded with tears, she hears a voice saying “Mary” and there is only one voice who says her name like that. Jesus is alive. I can feel her ecstatic confusion- not completely understanding and yet wanting to believe the truth in front of her with all her heart. It’s a bit how may we feel today- not completely comprehending the breadth of the work completed for us on the cross, but wholly believing it, putting all of our hope and trust in it because there’s nothing else to hope for that is as wonderful as the future Christ promises us. There’s no other religious story in the world where a God becomes a redeemer, giving up his life for us to have life.
The only way Christ’s death makes sense is if indeed, He rose, if indeed, love has won and the power of death has been snapped apart. Christ love is greater than Satan’s power. Christ has conquered Satan’s grip. This is our hope on Easter- Christ has conquered and we have been rescued. Thise stories drawn on our resurrection tree, simple enough for a child to understand, show us the greatest promise in history – God’s faithfulness to rescue and redeem those who believe in Him.