Revive Our Hearts Podcast

More Than Just Another Holiday

Episode Resources

Visit Barbara's site: Ever Thine Home.

Leslie Basham: Barbara Rainey says Resurrection Sunday is more than just another holiday.

Barbara Rainey: We need to make a big deal out of Easter. We need to elevate it. We need to have a grand, glorious, fabulous party. I’m just talking about gathering with family, friends, your whole church, whatever it takes to make a big celebration and make a big statement.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Wonder of His Name, for March 5, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, my husband Robert and I have the joy of being back in Little Rock, Arkansas today, where I spent a number of years recording in the early days of Revive Our Hearts. The staff and team of FamilyLife was so kind to help launch Revive Our Hearts. So it’s a little bit like a homecoming to me, pulling back into the parking lot and the building and the studio where we recorded so many of the early Revive Our Hearts programs.

Dennis and Barbara Rainey are the co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry that you’re probably familiar with. You probably hear Dennis Rainey and his co-host Bob Lepine on FamilyLife Radio. And you’ve probably heard Barbara Rainey on Revive Our Hearts in the past.

She and Dennis have become dear friends. In fact, we visited together in Michigan near our home not too long ago. And today, we’re in the FamilyLife studio recording Revive Our Hearts programs with my sweet friend Barbara Rainey.

So, Barbara, welcome to Revive Our Hearts here at your FamilyLife studio.

Barbara: I know. Isn’t that kind of fun?

Nancy: It really is.

Barbara: Well, I’m delighted to be here. It’s always a privilege to get to do this with you, and we’re going to have a great time talking about some really fun subjects.

Nancy: Our listeners have always enjoyed hearing you. We’ve talked about Christmas. We’ve talked about Thanksgiving and making these holidays and celebrations meaningful. We’ve talked about empty-nest season of life. You co-authored a book on that. Any time you share out of your heart and life experience, our listeners perk up and want to hear what you have to say.

You really love these holidays—holy days, as they used to be called—and making them special.

Barbara: I do. Yes.

Nancy: How did you start to get a burden for that?

Barbara: Well, I started thinking about this many years ago. I was actually longing for something like this when I was at home raising our six kids because as the holidays rolled around . . . it’s interesting when you have children. Kids know intuitively something’s different about this day or about this season.

I think it’s a setup that God has orchestrated for us to be able to pour truth into our kids’ hearts, and it’s primarily because the basis for most of our holidays are actually biblical. So, even though the Old Testament people didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, God made a big deal about us being thankful people and being grateful for what He has done.

Nancy: And He put certain dates on the calendar, the Jewish calendar, for the people to express their thankfulness to God.

Barbara: He did. That’s right. I think that whole pattern that God initiated with His people of coming to Jerusalem three times a year, of having those feast days, feast seasons in their lives, He knows how easy it is for us to forget Him. He knows how prone we are to wander. And so He says, “Gather together. Come together, and remember Me. Think about Me.”

Nancy: And they did it annually.

Barbara: That’s right.

Nancy: Every year they had these festivals. They would make the trek. In fact, some of our psalms in the Old Testament were sung as the people would be walking to Jerusalem to celebrate these festivals.

Barbara: Yes, walking back. That’s right.

Nancy: So it was a pause from your normal work routine; stop and think about your redemptive history, about who God is, about what He has done in your life.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: And they did it as families. They did it as community.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: And you’ve said, this is something that shouldn’t just be for the Old Testament.

Barbara: No.

Nancy: This is for New Testament believers, too.

Barbara: Right. I think many of our holidays mirror that—especially Easter—because Easter is the New Testament holiday that sprung from Passover. Easter occurred simultaneously with the Passover the year Jesus was crucified.

Even Christmas somewhat parallels the festival of lights, which wasn’t one of the original festivals that God initiated in the Old Testament, but it is and was celebrated for many, many centuries by the Jewish people.

Our holidays have a reflection back to what God initiated in the Old Testament. So when we take time to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, when we take time to celebrate His resurrection at Easter, we are mimicking, we’re continuing the traditions that God established in the Old Testament.

Those holidays help us remember who God is and what He has done and the privilege of belonging to Him, the absolute, amazing truth that Jesus came to earth at Christmas—He didn’t have to do that, but He did—and that He came to earth in order to die.

Nancy: Yes.

Barbara: When we get our families together, around those two holidays in particular, and we talk about what Jesus did, it’s a great opportunity to teach them. It’s a great opportunity to remind them and ourselves of how great our redemption is, how great our salvation is and that adds so much meaning. It adds so much depth to your family when you can center your holiday around the true meaning behind it.

Nancy: And it’s a really important rhythm.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: We have weekly rhythms. We have the Lord’s Day—in the Old Testament, they had the Sabbath—they would celebrate weekly to remember God, to rest in Him, to worship Him, to recreate.

But then there were monthly holidays. There were holy days. There were annual ones. We need those rhythms where we stop, we reflect, and we tether our hearts to our past heritage in Christ, and even the roots that go back before Christ appeared on the earth, and then to our future, ultimate celebration in Christ’s presence forever. So there’s this whole continuum. We join with saints and citizens here on earth through all history, and then in heaven above, as they worship the King.

It really ties us to the people of God, to our past, our present, and our future, which is—we’re not of this earth. We’re not of this kingdom.

Barbara: Yes. That’s right.

Nancy: We celebrate the kingdom of Christ and the redemptive story. So these annual holidays that can make so many of us beleaguered and exhausted (laughing) from doing it the world’s way, you’ve really challenged us to redeem those and make them spiritually significant.

Barbara: Yes. That really is a desire of my heart, and I believe God put it there twenty or thirty years ago when I was raising my kids. I had a longing for a way to take the commercialism out of Christmas and focus on Jesus and to take Easter and make much more out of Easter, to elevate Easter, to focus on what Christ did for us.

I was so swamped with my children. I was so busy. I was so tired all the time. And even though I tried to come up with some creative things, I just didn’t have the capacity in that season of my life. But as I became an empty nester, I began to have the time, and the creativity started to come back.

And God, in His kindness, opened some doors for me to be able to work on helping some young moms, like I used to be, have ways, have resources, have things they can do with their kids so they can point them to the real reason for the season.

Nancy: Well, speaking of Easter, that’s just ahead of us now, about a month away, and that’s why we’re airing this conversation in plenty of time before Easter that people can start to think about and prepare for how they will make Passion Week, Good Friday, and Resurrection Day really special.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: I remember years ago one of the first resources or tools that you and FamilyLife developed was the Resurrection Eggs.

Barbara: That’s right.

Nancy: In fact, I remember last Easter I was with a family that had a bunch of grandkids—they were an extended family. Robert and I celebrated Easter, Resurrection Day, Sunday lunch with them. Afterwards, while the adults were cleaning up, one of the moms asked me if I would go downstairs with all the little munchkins and do the Resurrection Eggs. It was such a sweet time, just opening each of those eggs. Describe what you find when you open those.

Barbara: Well, there are twelve eggs in the set. It’s an egg carton, shaped just like you find in the grocery store, with twelve plastic eggs that open. In each egg there is a little symbol, and then there’s an accompanying little story that you read. It walks children through what Jesus went through to buy and to purchase for us our salvation.

It’s a very easy, tactile experience for little children, especially to go for an egg hunt and find the eggs. And then, as you read the story, the reader says, and I’m sure you did this, “Who has egg number 1, the pink one, or whatever the color is, I can’t remember?”

Nancy: And their little hands are up in the air. They’re so excited to answer.

Barbara: Oh, yes. They’re so excited. They open it, and then you explain what that is and why that’s significant. I think what Resurrection Eggs showed us . . . In those early years especially, they sold like hot cakes. We had no idea that they would be that popular.

But I think what that tells us is that there’s this latent need, this desire that we feel as believers to be able to exalt Christ at Easter. We just don’t know how to do it because the culture has made Easter all about bunnies and chicks and flowers and pastel colors. It’s not about the cross; it’s not about the resurrection. As believers, we’re not quite sure how to make that turn.

So Resurrection Eggs are a wonderful help for children, but how do we help older children and adults also have something that elevates the experience of Easter as it should be for all of us as believers?

Nancy: Let me just say for our listeners that Barbara has developed a ministry called Ever Thine Home, and I’m going to let her tell you a little bit about that in just a moment, but we’re linking to that site on Revive Our Hearts website during this series. You can go there. You can see the Resurrection Eggs; you can see more resources that are available. Just tell us what they’ll find when they go to that website.

Barbara: Well, the idea behind Ever Thine Home is for all of us to make our homes about Jesus so that when a guest comes in, or even a family member, they know who you belong to because there are things around your house that say something about the King, something about Jesus.

What I’m hoping to do is create several different things for Easter. We have such a plethora of options for Christmas. I mean, it’s overkill how much is available for Christmas decorating. But, by comparison, there’s so little for Easter, and what little is out there is not about Christ.

Nancy: You’ve developed some beautiful resources—plaques, pictures, napkins, table runners, banners—things that you can put up in your home to picture the season, the reason for the season, the sacrifice that Christ made.

So go to ReviveOurHearts.com and we’ll link you to Ever Thine Home. But this week as we prepare for Passion Week and Easter coming up in about a month, we’re offering to our listeners who want to start this process, a set of cards that you’ve developed that can be read on Easter or on the week leading up to Easter. We’re going to talk about those cards over the next couple of days, but just give us a description of what they’re like.

Barbara: Well, the original intention for those was to help make your meal on Easter more meaningful. So whether you have a big brunch, or you’re having a nice dinner after church on Sunday, or if you choose to do something in the evening, it’s a way for you to have a meaningful experience at the dinner table, have a meaningful conversation.

They are a set of eight cards, and you can put them on the plates or around the table. They’re numbered. From card one to card eight, they tell the story of the cross. They tell the story of Jesus going to the cross and then the resurrection at the end. It reminds you as you gather with family or friends this is why this day matters. This is what Jesus did.

The cards tie the experience into the Passover feast and the number of other things that are woven throughout the Old Testament. It helps us learn, too, as we read them, the meaning behind what Jesus did for us.

Nancy: I took time this morning to read through those eight cards, and I thought, This would be great even if you don’t have a family, you’re alone. This would be a great devotional reading through the week leading up to Easter, just to meditate on the symbols, the pictures of Easter, of the resurrection that are hidden thousands of years earlier in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: So we’re offering this set of cards. It comes bound in a paper wrapper that describes some of the importance of these feasts in the Scripture and how we can elevate Easter and make it special.

So when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts this week, we’ll send you those Easter cards. They have beautiful line drawings on each card.

Barbara: They do. I found this old book at a garage sale. It was a book about Easter. When I flipped it open, every other page or so was illustrated with these amazing pencil drawings, line drawings. I bought the book for fifty cents or something and brought it home. We contacted the publisher, and they gave us permission to use those.

Not only do the cards have rich, wonderful stories to read, but the opposite side has an amazing pencil drawing of Jesus or His hands praying or the angel at the tomb. They’re incredible artwork.

Nancy: We’ll send you that set of cards as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts this week. This is something I think will bless you as you prepare for Easter just a few weeks ahead.

Barbara, we’re going to unpack those different cards over the next couple of days and talk about those different symbols and hidden stories in the Old Testament that pointed to Christ. I know you’ve done a lot of research on the importance of Easter, Resurrection Day as a hallmark, a capstone, a pillar of our faith. We do so much to celebrate Christmas, but, really, Christmas without what it leads to, the cross and the resurrection, would be just a cow stall, just a manger. It would really be meaningless.

Barbara: Yes. It would be very meaningless. In fact, I’ve got a quote that I’m going to read, if you don’t mind, from a man named N. T. Wright. He has written some things about Easter, and when I read them, I thought, Yes, that’s what I’ve been feeling, and he’s put it into words.

He said, “This is our greatest festival.” For Christians, it’s the pinnacle of our faith. It’s what holds it altogether. If it weren’t for the cross, Christmas would be meaningless. We wouldn’t even know it happened probably.

He went on to say, “Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms, you lose two chapters of the front of Matthew and two chapters at the front of Luke, but nothing else. If you take Easter away, you don’t have a New Testament. You don’t have Christianity. And as Paul says, we are still in our sins.”

He goes on to write about how we need to make this an exuberant celebration. We need to jump up and down and cheer and dance and clap. We need to be happy. We need to rejoice. I mean, think of what the disciples felt when the women went to the tomb and He wasn’t there? When they believed, do you think they just were excited on Resurrection Day and then Monday morning, got up and went back to life as normal? No! They were transformed for the rest of their lives.

We’ve become so familiar with the stories, so familiar with the holiday, that, we go to church—we may dress a little differently—the music may be slightly altered from normal, we go home, and have a nice big lunch, maybe, the television goes back on, kids go back out and play, and it’s over. Then we get up and go to work or to school on Monday morning as if nothing happened.

It just kills me. It grieves me. It’s so wrong. I think, even though we intuitively as believers know something needs to be different, again, no one knows what to do. So I’m on this personal crusade of sorts to say, “We need to make a big deal out of Easter. We need to elevate it. We need to have a grand, glorious, fabulous party.”

I’m not talking about making it full of consumerism like Christmas. I’m not talking about replicating anything that we have at Christmas. I’m just talking about gathering with family, friends, your whole church, whatever it takes to make a big celebration and make a big statement.

When you think about it, the world is watching us as believers. Right? They see a lot of believers go through forty days of Lent. They see them give up something. They see them be sort of sad, or whatever. And then they see Easter come, and it’s over in a couple of hours. I think they probably look at us and think we’re kind of strange.

Nancy: Yes.

Barbara: I think, instead, if we had this amazing celebration with a feast and with music and clapping and all of that, I think the world might take notice and go, “Oh, they’re really serious about this Jesus. They really believe that this was important. Look how they celebrate.”

I think we have a great opportunity to witness to the watching world, to proclaim our faith on Easter Sunday in a way that people will take notice, and they will say, “Oh, there must be something about this Jesus, and I want to know more.”

Nancy: We need to start by reminding ourselves of the significance, the monumental importance of what happened on that first day of the week when that tomb was empty, when Jesus walked out alive.

Barbara: That’s right.

Nancy: Paul said if this is not true, then we of all people are most to be pitied because we are still dead in our sins forever if Jesus did not rise from the dead.

Barbara: That’s right.

Nancy: The fact that He did rise means that we can have salvation, eternal life in Christ. We can have victory over sin. Satan’s power has been defeated. He has been vanquished as the enemy of our souls. At the resurrection, Jesus undoes what Satan did there in the Garden of Eden, and that’s something really worth celebrating.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: But I think—and I’m saying this about myself—it all gets kind of ho-hum if we don’t stop and focus on it, think about it, meditate on it, and then do something to celebrate it.

Barbara: I agree. I think it has become ho-hum for all of us, and I’m included in that, too, though I’m working really hard to change it.

Nancy: In fact, Barbara, you sent me a few photos when we started talking about this subject about what you did with your family last Easter. Can you paint a picture for us of what that was like?

Barbara: Oh, I hope I can. It was really a wonderful experience. I thought, Okay, I can talk about this. I can think about this. I can write about this. But I need to do something about this.

We had the opportunity for five of our six children and their spouses and their children to come home for Easter weekend, and we’ve never done that since they left home. Our children come home at Thanksgiving, sometimes Christmas, but we’ve never gathered for Easter.

So that in and of itself was a significant change. Then I decided that we were going to have a feast like none other on Easter Sunday. We got these tables that I borrowed from a friend. There are thirty of us, so it takes quite a production.

Nancy: That table looked like it went on forever.

Barbara: It did look like it went on forever because we had three tables, end to end, and it really did look like it was a table that went on forever. I borrowed chairs from friends. I set the table all in white and gold, borrowed white plates from friends so that I would have plates, because I don’t have thirty white plates.

But I created this atmosphere with lots and lots of candles. My kids looked at me kind of funny when I asked them this, but I asked them if they would all dress in white. People used to always wear white at Easter, and it wasn’t just because it was a nice thing to do.

People dressed in white symbolically to say, “This is what Christ has done for me. He has saved me, and He has washed me clean from my sin, and because of the resurrection, I am clean.” And one day in heaven, we will be dressed in white linen, sparkling and bright.

So on Easter Sunday, not only do we celebrate what Jesus did, but if we wear white, we’re foretelling what will happen one day when we have the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and we will be seated at a really long table, all dressed in white.

Nancy: Yes.

Barbara: We had such a great time. I hired someone to cook because I didn’t have time to do all that. We brought in all this food. We had it in a neighbor’s barn who has an upstairs. We lit all the candles, and we played music, and we had a great feast. Then after it was over, we decided . . . I wanted to dance. I just wasn’t sure how it would work. We’re not great dancers, but we played all this music, and with the kids, we all got out there.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t beautiful dancing. But what it was, was celebratory. All of us together got out on the floor, and the little kids were jumping and doing cartwheels, and the big people were feeling awkward because we’ve never done this before except at a wedding. And, yet, I wanted us to collectively celebrate the resurrection as if it had just happened that day and we had just seen Jesus, and we couldn’t contain ourselves.

It was my first stab at trying to initiate that into our family and to invite our family in to celebrating with great exuberance because that’s what Easter deserves.

Nancy: You may not be able to do your Easter just the way Barbara did, but I want to challenge you to think about how you can give more importance to this coming Passion Week and Easter. How can you celebrate? You may live alone. You may want to invite some neighbors to join with you in a special celebration of the resurrection. Be creative.

And then I want to encourage you to get these Resurrection Day cards, these Easter cards—these eight cards that help to tell the story of Easter with some really meaningful Old Testament pictures that were fulfilled in Christ.

Again, those are available as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts this week.

Now, be sure and join us tomorrow as we continue this conversation with Barbara Rainey. We’re going to talk through those cards over the next couple of days to give you a taste of what you can anticipate as you prepare to celebrate this coming Resurrection Day.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Barbara Rainey about making this Easter season more special.

Let me tell you how to get a copy of the set of Easter cards Nancy’s been telling you about. Call us at 1–800–569–5959, and ask for the Easter cards. They’re our gift when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any size, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation and get your cards.

Tomorrow, Barbara will be back to show us why knowing the background of Passover helps us better understand the crucifixion. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you celebrate the hope we have in Jesus. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.