Easter season provides opportunity to teach kids about new birth

By Carolyn Tomlin
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Alabama parents and those who work with children in our Baptist churches have many opportunities to teach about new birth and resurrection during the Easter season. Our stores are filled with cuddly toy lambs, rabbits and chicks that remind us of spring. Pastries of hot-cross buns and pretzels line bakery shelves. And the traditional Easter lily carries its own unique fragrance.

These are only a few of the representations associated with Easter. Perhaps as adults we are familiar with these signs but do our children know the reason for these symbols? Do they know the ancient roots going back to the death and resurrection of Jesus? Look at a few of the traditional symbols of Easter and what they represent:

The egg, chicks and rabbit symbolize new life in Christ. Since ancient times the egg has been associated with the spring season. Some people see the egg representing the tomb from which Jesus emerged when He rose again. When the chick breaks through the eggshell and hatches, this is a representation of new life.

Easter lily

The fragrant Easter lily with its pure white blossoms symbolizes the purity of Jesus. The miracle of a bulb is a fascinating topic. A dried-up, unattractive object is planted in the soil. God sends the rain for moisture and the sun for nutrients. Within a few months a small green shoot appears — still no indication of what is to come. In time a stalk, leaves and buds appear. Then the miracle happens. The most aromatic fragrance one can imagine fills the air. The lily symbolizes new life and the resurrection of Christ.

Throughout the Bible the gentle lamb is mentioned numerous times. The King James Bible lists the singular form “lamb” 105 times, the possessive form “lamb’s” twice and the plural form “lambs” 81 times.

A lamb is known to be a humble, tender and gentle animal. The lamb represents Jesus, the Lamb of God. John 1:36 reads: “When he (John) saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God.’”

In Bible times crucifixion on the cross was a punishment for a harsh crime and an instrument of execution. The cross symbolized Jesus’ victory over death. During the Easter season many churches display a cross and Easter lily in the worship center.

A butterfly reminds us of new life and birth. The butterfly goes through a complete metamorphosis — a Greek word meaning “transformation” or “change in shape.” The four stages of the butterfly are the egg, larva, pupa and adult. This transformation is symbolic of what occurs when Christ enters our life.

Throughout the centuries the meaning of the cross that marks the hot-cross buns is uncertain.

Support is given to a 12th century monk who may have been the first person to mark the bun with a cross. Baked on Good Friday the hardened bread honors the upcoming Easter.

Traditionally the “cross” was made with a knife point or extra dough on the unbaked loaf.

Today simple icing makes the shape of the cross.

Arms crossed in prayer

A mixture of flour, yeast and other ingredients form a pretzel — a food eaten during Lent. The pretzel was twisted to resemble the arms crossed in prayer and numerous stories exist as to its beginning. A familiar one: In 610 A.D. a monk from Europe used scraps of dough and formed them into strips to represent a child’s arms folded in prayer. The three empty holes present the Christian Trinity.


Hot-cross buns family activity

1. Use a simple yeast bread recipe or ready-made dinner rolls.

2. Purchase a tube of decorating icing.

3. Guide the child into making a cross on top of each roll.

4. Talk about the meaning of the cross.

5. Write appropriate Scripture on cardstock and encourage the child to memorize the brief verse.

6. As you work together play recordings of favorite hymns associated with Easter.

Compiled by Carolyn Tomlin