As I was putting together this tablescape, I started with the tulips and bunnies, adding the cross almost as an afterthought … which is odd because the cross is never an afterthought when I think of Easter. In fact, without the cross, there IS no Easter. As I reflected, I realized my Easter tablescapes always have either a “religious” or a “Springtime” theme — never both. When decorating, vignettes have always been either/or. Hmmm …
Working on this Easter table, I found it interesting that what came to mind was the first time I saw a Christmas nativity set with Santa at the manger. I don’t mind telling you it was a bit off-putting for me. I did a double take, and I might have been a little offended. Why? Well, because Santa Claus is “commercialism and worldly” … and Jesus is anything but! Oh, yeah, I know the origin of Santa and the story of the real St. Nicholas—and I’m all about charitable giving—but the jolly ol’ elf himself kneeling at the manger? It felt a bit perhaps like a Christian saying (read with sarcasm), “As long as SANTA worships the Baby Jesus, it’s okay if I get drawn into the hustle-bustle commercialism of the holiday until “the big day” … and then I’ll turn my focus to the Baby, too. After all, Jesus is the Reason for the Season!”
… But we were talking about Easter— and Jesus is STILL the reason for the season—and I did the exact same kind of double-take the very next day when I came across a drawing that described “real” Easter bunnies by linking them to Scripture. I have no doubt the artist’s heart was in the right place, but I can’t help but wonder why so many Christians have fallen into the habit of putting religious faces on secular choices. Wait… what? Of thinking it’s okay to focus on the “other” Easter (or Christmas) as long as we can put a little God-spin on it. If we’ll just latch on to a few Bible verses, we can be a “real” Easter bunny—right up until “the big day” when we walk into church (with the proper level of respect and praise-lifting) and focus our attention on the empty cross for an hour.
Please don’t misunderstand. I grew up with— and love!—the egg-filled baskets and bunnies and Springtime flowers … the “pretties” of Easter … and they do bring to mind an awakening of the earth and new life (even if their origins are in pagan symbolism). But it seems really odd to me that we won’t acknowledge what probably appears to many outside the faith to be inconsistencies in our belief … or worse, hypocrisy. While our words say Easter is about Jesus, our actions often say otherwise.
If our focus year-round is on our projects … our shopping … our online visiting … OUR choices … and the cross is an afterthought, then that’s what those around us will see. If, instead, our focus is first on the things of God as the foundation of our life choices, then we won’t feel the need to add “religious speak” as a qualifier if there’s no cross hanging around our bunny’s neck. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but I hope you see my point. Why don’t we Christians agree to break the cycle of God-spinning every aspect of our lives and instead simply acknowledge … first … God’s presence and faithfulness in the everyday?
From a tablescaping perspective, I’m not particularly pleased with this table (the bunnies are too large for the cross) and I doubt I’ll ever do another tablescape with both bunnies and a cross … but I’m really glad this one happened. It gave me a lot to think about. Christian friends, let’s enjoy our Easter “pretties” … but let’s be sure to focus on the cross—and the tomb—so we’ll reflect their emptiness back to the world. It’s the least we can do after all Jesus did for us.
Have you accepted the gift that God gave us at Christmas, letting the Baby Jesus capture your heart? Have you accepted that his death, too, was a gift? Have you let the Easter Jesus break your heart as you struggle to fathom that kind of love? The kind that says, “I love you and I want you to acknowledge my existence and believe that I died for you—for YOU. I want a relationship with you. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers; I have them. Why won’t you trust me? I’m here for you … but I love you enough to let you choose.”
Christ arrives right on time… He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:6-8 (The Message)
Ask yourself: Where is my focus?
I’ll be joining: