Category Archives: Easter Season

It’s gonna be a BIG day!

I rolled out of bed this morning ready to get back to the “normal routine” of life after a wonderful Holy Week full of celebrations, traditions and meaningful moments as we remembered Jesus’s life, death & resurrection.  I was mentally making a checklist of everything that I needed to accomplish:

  • Get the house back in order
  • Finish up on a pile of pressing paperwork & bills
  • Prepare for several upcoming speaking engagements
  • Gather up homeschool assignments to turn in to the charter school
  • Recruit mentors for Rebekah’s Rite of Passage year
  • Send out Amy’s graduation invitations <yikes! she is really graduating from high school already…how did that happen?>

The list was becoming daunting and I heard myself sigh as I walked past the dining room table full of candy wrappers and stray Easter grass spilling over onto the floor.  I was then greeted by my four year old son Daniel with a look of awe and wonder on his face.

He sat up from his perch on the couch and exclaimed with gusto –  “Mommy, It’s gonna be a BIG day!”… then he stopped and asked inquisitively…“Is Jesus still alive?”

I love how the Lord uses children to stop me in my tracks and change my perspective at any given moment. Here I was the day after a glorious celebration of  Jesus resurrection already “bogged” down in the details of life instead of waking up with hopeful anticipation of the great things my risen Lord would do in my life today.  I imagine that the day after the resurrection of Jesus that the women who went to the tomb and were told – “He is Alive!  He has Risen from the dead!” –  did not wake up on Monday morning with a “back to the old routine” attitude.  In fact I am sure much like Daniel they were filled with excitement, wonder and awe and  were exclaiming – “It’s gonna be a BIG day!”   They were forever changed from that moment on…never to be the same again! They along with the disciples and followers of Christ lived the rest of their lives committed to the spread of the good news even to the point of dying for their faith.

I grabbed up my little boy in my arms with my heart full of love and gratitude and said – “Yes Daniel, Jesus is still alive…and He lives in our hearts and yes it’s gonna be a BIG day!”

That is how I want to live my life!  Each & everyday exclaiming – “It’s gonna be a BIG day!”  – because Jesus is alive in my life and I am going to live for Him!

 

 (If you want to see some photos of our families Holy Week & Easter celebration – you can see them at this link –

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Filed under Attitude, Easter Season, Faith, Life Lessons

Reflections on Making Holy Week…Holy

I am sitting here in the quietness of my living room (yes, believe it or not, even with 10 people living under this small roof there are moments of solitude and corners to go to escape) watching the flickering of five candles set up on our dining room table in the shape of a cross.  We entered into another Holy Week today with the celebration of the triumphant entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday and a time of family devotions after dinner in which we extinguished the first of six candles that will be put out each night this week leading up to Good Friday where we will face the darkness of the cross.

As I reflected on the upcoming week, where those of us who are believers in Jesus set aside time to remember His last days on this earth, I was sad to think about how this most important season in the Christian faith as been all but laid aside for many.  In days past…

  • students would always have Holy Week off from school
  • churches would celebrate Palm Sunday with great enthusiasm handing out palm branches formed into crosses for you to take home along with a family devotional to be used throughout Holy Week
  • most denominations would have a Maundy Thursday service complete with communion & even sometimes a foot washing ceremony
  • Good Friday was a sacred day with businesses closing at noon and folks attending solemn services to remind them of Christ great sacrifice

Today it seems like Easter arrives to everyone’s surprise and Holy Week is just perhaps a blip on our radar screen.  Easter vacation at school, which always fell during Holy Week, has given way to Spring Break which is taken at various times throughout March or April and not often coinciding with Holy Week.  Very few Christians even acknowledge Palm Sunday or Maundy Thursday. And tragically, Good Friday is just another run of the mill “TGIF” for most people.

I thought about our upcoming week and even with our very purposeful & meaningful family celebrations that we have set aside time to do (Palm Sunday, Holy Week Devotions, our Passover Christian Sedar, Good Friday Observance) we still have a week that is filled with school for my teenagers (although at least our Christian school takes off Good Friday, but at times we have had to fight for that), athletic events, dentist appointments, a birthday party, endless errands and work, work & more work. It just didn’t sound very “holy” and while some of the weeks activities are inevitable, others I could have avoided adding to our calendar or been more dedicated to getting done earlier.  I humbly and with repentance bowed my head and prayed for our family that we would not just live as if this was just another week but that we would set it aside as….holy.

But what exactly does holy mean?

The dictionary defines it as:

  1. consecrated: dedicated or set apart for religious purposes
  2. saintly: devoted to the service of God
  3. sacred: relating to, belonging to, or coming from a divine being or power

Wow!  Those are some pretty intense words — consecrated, dedicated, set apart, devoted to service, sacred, belonging to God.  As I contemplate by candlelight this evening I am making a renewed commitment to not allow Holy Week to ever get so “cluttered” again and to truly set it aside for God and His service. 

If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you too will consecrate, dedicate, set apart, and devote in sacred service this Holy Week to God!

P.S. – If  you are interested in our family Lenten season, Holy Week & Easter traditions you can  find them on my blog here –  https://bethlambdin.wordpress.com/category/easter-season/

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Filed under Determination, Easter Season, Faith, Family Traditions, Life at the Lambdins, Priorities

Palm Sunday – Holy Week Begins

dsc_04141Today is Palm Sunday….the day set aside to remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It marks the beginning of Holy Week for Christians around the world.  Holy Week that culminates in the observance of Christ’s death on the cross (Good Friday) and His amazing resurrection (Easter Sunday) is truly the foundation of Christianity and my faith.

I hope and pray that Christians who are reading this blog will be purposeful this week to use it as a time of remembrance, observation, teaching, training & celebration.  If you want or need some ideas or inspiration I blogged last year about all of our Lent, Holy Week & Easter family traditions here – Easter Season – there are 12 different entries that may inspire you.

This afternoon after church we began our Holy Week observances with our traditional Palm Sunday celebration (for details read here).  We enjoyed a yummy brunch before reading the scriptural account of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem, singing the song “Hosanna” and blowing out the first of six candles that will remain burning until Good Friday at noon.  Here are some photos of our Palm Sunday celebration.

dsc_0420The girls (minus Michelle who is carrying on the traditions in Apartment 7B6 in New York), Daniel and our friend Maddie Hale.

dsc_0422Daniel blows out the first candle of Holy Week.

dsc_0426dsc_0430Having some fun rein-acting the triumphal entry!

I would love to hear about any of your Holy Week traditions….please share with us all.

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Easter Family Photos

I’ve always loved getting us all dressed up on Easter Sunday in color coordinating and/or matching dresses for the girls.  Besides making for beautiful photos, it also creates wonderful memories and gives us a unique sense of family togetherness and unity.  The girls can tell you many a funny story about their Easter, Christmas & 4th of July clothes! (or just color coordinating for an excursion to make it easier to spot all the kids!) This year I actually picked out the teenage daughters skirts and to their amazement I had “good taste”!  🙂

We also have always taken this dress up opportunity to take family pictures while we are all looking good!  Our dear life long friend Michelle Sallee has taken many of those photos.  She is quite an excellent photographer and has recently started up a photography business.  If you like what you see here – check out her blog at Sallee Photography to look at her awesome photos – weddings, sports action photos, senior portraits, family photos, beach pictures & more.  If you live locally and would like to hire a fabulous budding photographer – I highly recommend her!

What do you think of my beautiful family? The only thing that would have made these photos better is having my eldest daughter Michelle home to be in them!

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Happy Easter

When we wake up on Easter morning all the black ribbons are gone from the table and mantle and they are blaze with color and new life, looking like this –

After sunrise service we unveil the Easter basket (yes we only have one family basket – another joy of having a large family!) and everyone enjoys having a hard boiled egg along with coffee cake & doughnuts for breakfast. (and I’m sure everyone snags at least one piece of candy from that basket too!)

We head off for Easter service at our home church after taking family photos. (to be posted soon)  We have been attending the same church for almost 25 years and we are so blessed to have life long friends who we get to celebrate together with.

After church, we have our traditional Easter Brunch. We were blessed with beautiful sunny 79 degree weather today so we were able to have it outside! (which we love).  We always serve – Egg Casserole, Hash Browns topped with cheese & sour cream, sausage, asparagus (a home grown specialty in Stockton!), cinnamon rolls, chocolate covered strawberries, sparkling cider and coffee.  It is spectacular!  After our brunch we had the children share the Resurrection Eggs (12 plastic Easter Eggs each filled with something representing the story of the Passion of Christ from His entrance into Jerusalem to His resurrection). This year we were joined by our dear sister Jennae, closest friend Michelle and good family friends Jen Gibson and her three daughters – Cassidy, Audrey and Chloe.  We all enjoyed a lovely afternoon together.

I pray your Easter celebration was glorious! 

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Christ is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

In the very early morning hours while it was still dark my mother would awaken us up from our slumber exclaiming in a hushed tone – “Christ is Risen!” – and of course we were expected to respond – “He is Risen Indeed!” (which we always did although sometimes quite unenthusiastically when we became “tired” teens) We would then get up & get dressed and head out into the darkness to drive to a sunrise service.  These services were always filled with an amazing sense of awe and majesty as the power of our risen Lord seemed to fill the air and we breathed in His presence.  As the sun rose above the horizon and we sang songs of the risen Savior, it all came alive to me in a new and fresh way.  It is these moving experiences of Easter Sunrise Services, late night church services on a candlelit Christmas Eve, Christian Summer Camp Meetings, sitting alone in a beautiful chapel or sanctuary talking to God,  powerful worship and special communion times that have all been a part of what caused me to fall in love with the Lord and develop an intimate relationship with Him.

And as an adult,  sunrise services still bring me to tears as I sit in the dark of the early morning and watch the sun arise and join together with fellow believers to celebrate the resurrection. I hope that my children will catch this same heart of fire for the Lord as we cultivate these traditions.  In our early family years when we had many little ones, we held a simple sunrise service in our very own backyard.  Nine years ago the pastors of our city came together and began a city wide sunrise service in our community downtown on the waterfront.  We have attended every year since its inception.  And it is AWESOME! (If you are reading this blog and live in the Stockon area – you should make every effort to BE THERE!)

It is awesome to:

  • be up at that early hour and sense the same reality of those who came the tomb on the morning of the resurrection. (Think of the song that begins – “Was it a morning like this?”)
  • watch the sun rise and take in the breathtaking beauty & majesty of Gods creation.
  • worship with fellow believers in the risen Lord from all denominations! (“How good & pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”)
  • listen to the story of Jesus and His triumphant Resurrection! (the story never gets old!)
  • remember & celebrate the day that you first became aware that Christ died for YOU and that He conquered death, hell & the grave so you could have eternal life. It is truly an amazing indescribable love!

 Here is our family this morning at the Stockton Sunrise Service –

The message was especially inspirational and we were moved to adjust our morning plans and pick up some boxes of coffee at Starbucks and pass it out while we were downtown and tell them – “Christ is Risen!”

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Easter Eggs & Cookie Creations

The Saturday between Good Friday & Easter Sunday is filled with preparations for our celebration.  Besides cleaning the house, prepping for our Easter brunch and last minute Easter outfit coordinating, we make our traditional sugar cookies in the shape of a cross & Easter eggs and we dye Easter eggs!  These are fun filled, memorable activities for the kids and build the momentum for the excitement of Resurrection Day!

For those of you who want my be interested in the history of Easter Eggs I read this interesting information on Barbara Curtis’s Mommy Life Blog –

History of the Easter Egg: To keep a Christian perspective of Easter in your home, please note the following research that can help you explain the history of the Easter egg to your children.

The earliest Christian history of the Eater egg tradition is found approximately 50 years after Jesus’ resurrection. Bright red-colored eggs were simply exchanged as gifts as a symbol of continuing life and Christ’s resurrection. The red color was an intentional Christian tradition commemorating the blood of Christ. The red Easter eggs in Christian history were originally used when two friends met on Easter day. They two friends would know to tap their eggs together and one would greet the other with the words, “Christ is Risen!” and the other would respond, “Christ is Risen Indeed!” Then the eggs were eaten in fellowship.

During the Reformation, the church instituted the custom of breaking the Lenten fast with hard-boiled eggs. The eggs were brought to the Easter morning service, and the priest blessed them saying, “Lord, bless these eggs as a wholesome substance, eaten in thankfulness on account of the resurrection of our Lord.”

Our main focus must always be that our children meet Jesus in a personal way. If an Easter egg will bring Jesus alive to a child as a symbolic illustration, we should rejoice in the revelation of Jesus and his Resurrection to our children!

 We have always shared with our children that Easter Eggs, bunnies, flowers etc…. were symbols of “new life” just like the new life we have in Christ.  One of my goals in all our family traditions is that they are meaningful and memorable and that they teach that both life and the Lord are good. (and that we have fun too!)

Enjoy the slide show!

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The Excellent Easter Egg Hunt

We are blessed to have a group of believing friends (all of us who attend different churches & denominations) who get together once a month for praise, prayer, fellowship & food – based on the scriptures found in Acts 2:42 – “and they came together for the apostles teaching, the breaking of bread, fellowship & prayer”.  It has been an incredible blessing for us all as we are like minded in our love for the Lord, our love for our families and our desire to lead a meaningful and purposeful life.

Saturday we met for our monthly get together and included an Easter Egg Hunt for all the children (between the four families we have 17 children and one on the way!)  The family that hosted have a huge piece of property out in the country – perfect for the egg hunt!  The kids had a great time and the adults enjoyed a beautiful afternoon that included a time of worship, prayer and encouraging conversation. 

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Making the connection – Christmas to Easter

As I shared at Christmas we always make a point to connect the birth of Christ and that celebration to His ultimate purpose – His death & resurrection. At Christmas the first ornament we put on the tree is a nail to remind us of this, as well as reading “The Tale of Three Trees”. (You can read about that here)

One of the Christmas decorations we leave up through Good Friday in our in our home is a wonderful stamped series of pictures. (created for us on our 15th anniversary by our dear life long friend – Rachel Fichtner)

As you can see it is a Christmas tree that is slowly losing all its decorations and branches until it is completely dead.  The final picture has the tree looking like a cross and the words on it say – “When all the glitter is gone…only one truth still remains.”

This year we got a new Christmas item that we left displayed in our kitchen.  It is a beautiful red platter that my little sis – Cynthia gave us that says” “May the spirit of Christmas be forever in your heart” I served the hot cross buns on that platter yesterday. (A new tradition and connection is begun!)

Another very neat thing that we do is to take our Christmas tree at the end of that season (After Epiphany on January 6) and my dear darling hubby strips of the branches and makes the trunk into a cross.  For many years we used it as the center of our backyard Easter sunrise service that we held. (For the last nine years we have attended our awesome city wide service down by the waterfront that includes dozens of churches coming together to celebrate!) Now we simply have it in our backyard as a year long reminder of the cross and its power. Perhaps I will decorate it with flowers tomorrow since the weather report is saying it will be warm enough to have our Easter brunch outside!

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Pictures from Good Friday

Our yummy hot cross buns! The final candle on the cross stays lit until noon.

Rebekah loves hot cross buns! We all enjoyed sitting down around the table to enjoy this “sweet” tradition.

After our devotional reading we extinguish the final candle & drape a black cloth over our cross.  It stays that way until Easter Sunday morning.

Our mantel which displays our collection of crosses for a few weeks prior to Easter is also draped with a black ribbon. Yes it is dark & gloomy just as the disciples and followers of Christ must have felt at the time.  “It’s Friday…..but Sunday’s a coming!”

 

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Good Friday

It is sad to me that this most important day to our Christian faith – Good Friday – is often just overlooked as “just another day”. The day that Jesus Christ hung on the cross enduring the pain, agony and shame, not for anything he had done, but for us!  To save us from our sin. To heal and make us whole. To keep us from eternal damnation. 

Without the cross…..there would be no Resurrection, no hope, no healing, no eternal life.

Yet many believers do not set any time aside to observe this most sacred of days.  I remember a time when school was always out on Good Friday, where businesses shut down and closed their doors, where people would take off work to attend a Good Friday service.  Today, it is a rare thing to find Christians who are observing Good Friday.  (and even more apalling is the number of young people who can’t even tell you what Good Friday is!  We better wake up church!)

As a child, we began Good Friday with hot cross buns in the morning as an early reminder of what the day was all about – the cross where Jesus died.  My Mom also instituted a 3 hour “quiet time” where we would not be out playing, watching TV or doing chores – but rather we would read our Bibles or think about what Jesus had done for us.  While that time may not have been the most “fun” of our family traditions – I can tell you it impacted my life and it is the reason that I have spent my entire adult life observing Good Friday, often times having to take off a day from work to do it.

Our family tradition also includes hot cross buns in the morning! (yummy)  After our late night celebrating our Passover, we usually are rolling out of bed a bit later on Friday morning so after breakfast we get the dishes & house cleaned up and then sit down at about 11:30am around the table with our one last candle lit on our cross and read the account of Jesus death on the cross. (usually Matthew Chapter 27)

 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews ?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man ; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood ; see to that yourselves.”

And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall ; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.  And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.

And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.

“HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ “

The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”

And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah. Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.

Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

At noon we blow out the final candle and we drape the black cloth on a cross in the center of the table to remind us throughout the weekend of the darkness of those three days (On Easter Sunday morning the black clothed cross is replaced on the table with Easter lily’s and bright colors to remind us of the resurrection!)  We then close all the curtains & blinds in the house, turn off the lights, lock the doors and turn off all the phones for the next three hours of remembrance.

We began the following tradition when we had several little ones we decided we needed to come up with a Good Friday observance that they could participate in. (in other words I couldn’t figure out how to get a 7, 4, 3 and 18 month old to observe a 3 hour “quiet time”) So this our personal family Good Friday tradition was birthed.  We retreat into the family room and watch the movie “Ben Hur”– a great fictional story that includes a beautiful, moving & powerful depiction of Christ’s death on the cross. It also lasts about 3 hours & 30 minutes so it covers the entire time.  In the early years the girls would fall asleep (which was a-ok) – now it is one of their FAVORITE traditions. (In fact my eldest daughter who is currently working in Hawaii – went out and got Ben Hur so she could continue the tradition on her own!)
    
This year we are also going to attend a Good Friday service at 5:30pm with the older girls.
   
How are you observing Good Friday? I want to encourage you to do something – if you don’t already! Start today a life long tradition of observing thismost momentous day for believers in Jesus Christ.
  
(PS – The Passover Christian Seder photos are posted – click here & scroll to the bottom of the post to see the slide show!)

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Our Passover Christian Seder

It has been well over a decade since we decided as a family that we wanted to celebrate the Last Supper during Holy Week.  If you are familiar with the story then you know that the “Last Supper” was actually the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread or the Passover which is celebrated by the Jewish people.  It was the time they set aside to remember and praise God for delivering them from slavery in Egypt.  During the Passover Feast – Jesus had his final meal with his disciples and he instituted communion.  Communion is a very essential and meaningful part of the life of any believer. 

When we first began our celebration of the Last Supper the girls were young (10, 7, 6, 4 and 1) and we had a simple evening consisting of a meal (“feast”) and a time of communion.  We also incorporated a foot washing ceremony afterwards following in Christ’s example of washing the disciples feet.  Over the years that has grown to where we now have a full Passover celebration known as a Christian Seder.  And I must tell you – we LOVE it! Here is some information for you on the Passover and Seder:

Passover is the oldest and one of the most important of Jewish religious festivals.  It is  a celebration of the Isrealites deliverance by God from slavery in Egypt. The term Passover refers to the tenth and final plague God brought upon the Egyptians to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go, the death of all the firstborn of Egypt. In obedience to God’s instructions, those who believed placed the blood of a lamb on the door posts of their homes, so that God would “pass over” those homes. The festival actually celebrates the entire sequence of events that led to the Israelites’ freedom from slavery. While thoroughly based in those historical events, the celebration encompasses much more as it becomes a vehicle to celebrate the very nature of God and His gracious work in the world. 

The Passover meal is known as the Seder, which means “order,” because the meal and service are done in a prescribed sequence. This sequence is presented in the Haggadah (“telling”) which outlines the steps of the meal as well as the readings and songs for the participants. While there can be a great deal of variety in how the service is conducted, the basic elements and order have remained unchanged for centuries. The purpose of the celebration is to tell the story of God’s actions in history in a way that brings it out of the past and makes it a present reality for everyone in the community, young and old, as if they personally are part of the story. As such, the Passover has been termed one of the most effective teaching tools ever devised, as it appeals to all of the senses and involves everyone to tell the story of God.

 If you are interested in having a Christian Seder yourself – here are some good websites to gain all the information you need.  – Passover Seder for Christians, Christian Seder, A Christian Passover Seder   (It is most definitely NOT a “spur of the moment” event – although you could always have dinner and a time of communion & foot washing without much preparation – in fact the first time we did this in 2000 we decided Maundy Thursday morning.)

After our Seder we go out on the back porch and have a foot-washing.  As we wash one another’s feet in a humble act of service, we share with them our love for them. We also read the account of Jesus washing the disciple feet from scripture.  Then we bundle up and walk down the street to our local neighborhood park where we read the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and we spend some time praying there.  It certainly makes the scriptures come alive!

Since the Passion of Christ has come out on DVD a few years back, we have come home and watched that amazing movie depicting the final hours, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (although by this time it is quite late and the younger ones fall asleep on the couch)

The entire evening has become a favorite, much anticipated, not to miss event with our children. From Passover to Good Friday to Easter Sunday – these are the most cherished days of the year for me.

 

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A Flock of Hope

Tonight was the final “sacrificial meal” of the Lenten season.  (you can read about that tradition here)  We decided to donate the money we saved by eating only rice & pretzels each Wednesday night since Ash Wednesday to the Heifer Project.  This organization is committed to ending world hunger and one of the ways they are doing it is by giving others the opportunity to purchase a gift of a heifer, goat, sheep, pig, chickens, geese, ducks etc… to be given to people dealing with poverty from all over the world.

Tonight during our meal, we gathered around the computer and purchased a “flock of hope” (chickens, ducks and geese). According to Heifer International this is what our gift will do:

“Your gift of a Flock of Hope will include chicks, ducklings and goslings that will grow up to lay precious eggs that mean hope and increasing health and prosperity for hungry families from the Philippines to Rwanda. Eggs add vital protein to malnourished families’ diets, and droppings provide a wonderful natural fertilizer to improve crop yields. Over time as the flocks grow, families can sell the surplus eggs and produce at market and use the extra income to send children to school, build secure housing and more!”

We were all very excited about providing this for a family in need. We pray that they will be blessed abundantly!  If you are interested in Heifer Project and looking at their catalog – click here.

We finished our meal with a reading of the scripture when Judas went to the high priests and asked how much they would give him to betray Jesus. (isn’t money at the core of so many sins?) We blew out the fourth of our six candles and then began to make preparations for tomorrow’s Passover Celebration (also known as a Christian Seder) – one of our all time favorite traditions!

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Holy Week Begins – Celebrating Palm Sunday

After preparing our hearts during the past five weeks with our Wednesday Lent observance of a sacrificial meal – we are always ready for the arrival of Holy Week – which is the pinnacle of our Christian faith.

Today is Palm Sunday – the day to remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  After attending church this morning we came home and had brunch together before beginning our traditional Palm Sunday family devotion.  Yesterday I set the dining room table with six candles representing each day of this week ending with Good Friday.  I put the candles in the shape of a cross with a ribbon laying under them (I have always wanted to have a flat wooden cross I could lay on the table with holes for candles in it, but have never seen such a thing anywhere.  Someday I will have to have one made for our family…but for now this works!)

We will extinguish one candle each day this week until we are in “darkness” on Friday before noon when we read the Crucifixion account in the scriptures and observe Good Friday. (the opposite of lighting the candles during Advent)

Our time together as a family on Palm Sunday includes the reading of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

  • “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest!”

 Matthew 21:1-9

  This year we spent some time sharing our thoughts on how the same people could have been so enthusiastic and convicted in calling Jesus the King on a Sunday only to turn around five days later and shout “Crucify him!”.  We all agreed that it wasn’t much different at times than any one of us as we praise the Lord on Sunday morning in church only to ignore, disobey or deny him just days later. We also talked about Jesus coming on a donkey as a humble, servant leader being a sharp contrast to most modern day leaders in both the secular arena and sadly in some church leadership.  We decided we needed to all be more diligent to be like Jesus in this area of service and humilty.

We always have a little reenactment of the triumphal entry as well (children learn so much better through hands on and dramatic play activities).  The youngest child always get to ride our little brown rocking horse while the older sisters shout “Hosanna” & wave branches from our yard.  It is definitely memorable.

We end with the extinguishing of the first candle and the countdown to Good Friday has begun!

May you and your family take the time to prepare your hearts for the passion of Christ this Holy Week.

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A Season of Sacrifice – Observing Lent

Last Wednesday we began our yearly observance of Lent.  The season of Lent is yet another great opportunity to teach our faith to our children throughout the year. For those of you who are new to these more traditional religious  observations let me give a quick overview of Lent.

Information on Lent

In most Christian denominations, Lent is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter.The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where, according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan. 

The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and sacrifice—for the observation of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, as celebrated during Holy Week.

Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter”, a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

The color of Lent is purple, a sign of penance and prayer.

Lambdin Lent traditions

We normally begin our Lentan observance on Ash Wednesday.  We have a devotional service that includes Dan putting ashes on each of our foreheads. Ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance (sackcloth and ashes). They also remind us of our mortality (“Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return” Genesis 3:19) and thus of the day when we will stand before God and be judged. To prepare well for the day we die, we must die now to sin and rise to new life in Christ. Being marked with ashes at the beginning of Lent is a visual reminder that we need to prepare ourselves for that day that we will all die.

We share with our girls the importance of this Lenten season as a time to spend in self reflection, repentance, in drawing closer to the Lord and in sacrifice.

As a family we have chosen to continue a family tradition that I grew up doing called – the “sacrificial meal”.  Every Wednesday night during Lent, we have a meal that consists of only three things:

  1. Rice
  2. Pretzels
  3. Water

We give up our normal full meal that includes a wide variety of food – meat, vegetables, breads, salads and sometimes dessert – and use the money we save to give to the poor and hungry in our community.  We also share with the girls that a large portion of the world lives on rice and water (and many have no clean water!). We have so much to be thankful for!

Ok so I know many of you are wondering…why pretzels?

The pretzel has its origins as an official food of Lent.

According to pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover, a young monk in the early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one’s arms over each other on the chest. The bread was then baked as a soft bread, just like the big soft pretzels one can find today.

Because these breads were shaped into the form of crossed arms, they were called bracellae, the Latin word for “little arms.” From this word, the Germans derived the word bretzel which has since mutated to the familiar word pretzel.

Tonight the girls and I, who are at the beach house, had our weekly Wednesday sacrificial meal.

I spent some time teaching them again about Lent and its purpose. I shared with them the reason for our sacrificial meal and the symbolism behind the pretzels. We spontaneously began singing some worship songs and then closed with a time of prayer asking the Lord to help us to focus on service and sacrifice as well as spending more time in His Word and prayer during this Lenten season so that we might become more like Him.

I pray that you too will look for ways to observe Lent with your family and that your faith will be renewed and refreshed during this season!

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