Here's a little story I made up to help kids understand why we don't get in to bunnies and eggs at Easter time.
Excitement was in the air in the small town of Edgemont. They had a new hero—a champion speller. Timothy Atkins had just clinched the first place title at the national Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., and since he was a native son, the town was understandably proud!
The town leaders were organizing a city-wide celebration in Timothy's honor. While some spread out a huge banner over Main Street, others posted invitations on every lamp post and every store window in town. The invitations read, "Come one, come all to a special celebration to honor the accomplishments of Timothy Atkins who won the National Spelling Bee in Washington." Then they announced the time and location, which was the largest meeting room in the entire city! It seemed as if the whole town was abuzz with the exciting news and everyone pitched in to prepare for the big celebration.
The excitement was also very strong in the Atkins home. And if you were to peek into their window on the day of the celebration you'd see that other preparations were being made.
"Don't forget to comb your hair, son. Let's get that tie straightened a little; you want to look you best in the pictures!" Timothy pulled his tie into place as he and mother headed out the door and got into their car. Timothy bounced a little in excitement as he put on his seat belt.
When they arrived, the parking lot was so full that Mother had to drop Timothy off and go in search of a place to park.
As he opened the door he was taken by surprise. It seemed that everyone in town had come out to celebrate his accomplishment.
But as he walked in he was met with another surprise—everyone ignored him. When he tried to greet his friends they hardly even acknowledged his presence and continued to look at their dogs! It was the strangest thing. No one greeted him, no one spoke of the spelling champ—in fact it seemed to Timothy as if everyone had forgotten why this celebration was happening in the first place.
He breathed a sigh of relief when the mayor strolled to the microphone to make an announcement. Surely Mayor Woods would get things on track. "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please," the mayor began. He clapped his hands a few times to get everyone's attention. "As you all know, we have gathered here today to celebrate a kid from our town, um, what's his name?" he paused for a moment. "Oh well, I guess it doesn't really matter does it? Anyway we're here to celebrate some kid who won, er, something. I don't quite recall what it was. Oh well, congratulations, whoever you are about whatever you did. Now let's get onto the main event. If everyone will bring their dogs to the front the judging will begin."
"Is that all?" Timothy thought, "They set up this whole celebration to honor my hard work with spelling and my championship and they can't even remember my name?" Timothy felt miserable so he sat down by the door with his head in his hands to wait for his mother to come. The thought that they were more interested in dogs than him hurt like he'd had a knife stabbed into his heart.
Finally he saw his mother walk in. "Let's go!" he said as he pulled her out the door as fast as he could. They hurried out to the car where Timothy slammed the door and hunkered down in his seat.
"What's going on?" Mother asked.
"It's awful, just awful," Timothy wailed. "No one even noticed I was there, the mayor forgot who I was and what I'd done, and no one else remembered well enough to remind him! All they cared about were their dogs! They 're having a dog show, Mom, a dog show when they're supposed to be celebrating my spelling bee championship!"
"I'm so sorry," mother began, "I bet it hurts terribly to be left out and ignored at your own celebration. I think Jesus knows just how you feel."
"A long time ago people got together and said, 'Let's set up a special day every year to celebrate what Jesus did on the cross for us.' They called the holiday Easter. It's a day when we should remember how Jesus died on the cross to take our punishment for sin so that we wouldn't have to. It's a time to remember that he was buried in the tomb even before they were able to give Him a proper burial because the Sabbath had come. But when some women came to the tomb that next Sunday morning to finish the burial they were surprised to find the stone rolled away because Jesus had risen from the dead. And, Timothy, because He has conquered death we too can have eternal life if we trust in Him. But these days when people celebrate Easter they forget all about that story and about Jesus and celebrate bunnies and Easter Eggs. How do you think that makes Jesus feel?"
Timothy thought about that for a long minute. He didn't answer out loud for no answer was needed. But silently he began to pray, "I want you, Jesus, much more than bunnies and eggs. Help me never to forget what you did for me. Amen."
Copyright (c) 2008 by Steve Severance May be used for mentoring purposes --Please let me know how you use this story.