My mom made the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten, and she served it on Easter Sunday with ham, green beans, and all the trimmings. She dressed the table with a pastel linen tablecloth and added a vase of flowers for the centerpiece.
I recall other childhood Easter memories, like egg hunts in our grassy backyard, crisp new dresses with a matching hat or flowered headband, and the sweet fragrance of lilies that permeated the small church we attended.
My husband and I planned Easter activities for our children to help create similar memories. We arranged books about Jesus and Bible bookmarks in their Easter baskets along with the candy to emphasize the true meaning of the day.
Last year I enlisted our oldest granddaughter’s help to focus our attention on the meaning of Resurrection Sunday with a new Easter centerpiece. Beside our traditional vase of pink azalea blossoms, we added the model of Jesus’ empty tomb you see in the title photo. (Directions are at the bottom of this post along with additional Easter ideas for family celebrations.)
What is the meaning of the empty tomb?
What it meant to Mary
When Mary Magdalene wept as she stooped to enter the empty tomb of Jesus, her heart must have felt as empty as the grave appeared. The angels inside asked why she was crying.
She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they put Him.’
John 20:13 NASB
I wonder if those words were hard to say, if her head pounded and her throat tightened with grief. To Mary, the empty tomb and absence of His body represented the loss of her Lord, her teacher, her friend. He was gone. Or so she thought.
After talking with the angels, Mary turned and saw Jesus but didn’t recognize Him until He called her by name. Then …
She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher).John 20:16 NASB
Standing in His presence, we can imagine, her burden of emptiness lifted, her despair turned to hope, and her empty heart filled with joy in His presence.
What the empty tomb means to us
Our model of the tomb reminds us of the reason we celebrate Easter: Jesus arose from the dead. He lives in the hearts of those who surrender to Him in confession and accept His crucifixion as payment for their sin. Once we yield our will to Him, He lifts the burden of emptiness, turns our despair into hope, and fills our hearts with joy in His presence (John 15:11, Romans 15:13, Psalm 16:11).
As believers, we still face grief, trials, and difficult tasks and people. Jesus didn’t promise an easy path devoid of problems, but He did promise an abundant life with Him (John 10:10) and eternal life (John 3:16, John 3:36). What joy we find in walking with Him each day.
As Mary Magdalene did, we can turn away from feelings of emptiness and face our Savior, our Lord, our friend. We can talk with Him and listen to Him in prayer and Bible study as we walk in new life. Like the sun warms the earth in springtime, Jesus shines His light onto us and renews our hearts.
What signs of new life in Christ will family and friends see in us as we turn to Him each morning? How can we imitate God so that children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends see Christlikeness in us?
Would you share your thoughts on opening our hearts to His presence and celebrating life with Him? Creating memories of fun family times is important, but when we center our celebration on the meaning of the empty tomb, we share with our families and others the reason Easter is called Resurrection Sunday.
Creating memories of fun family times is important, but when we center our celebration on the meaning of the empty tomb, we share with our families and others the reason Easter is called Resurrection Sunday. Click To Tweet
I’m eager to read your comments.
The Empty Tomb Easter Centerpiece
Numerous internet sites and Pinterest boards include similar models. Find the one your family would enjoy making. The directions for the pictured model are below.
- Ask children to collect thin sticks and small pebbles. You’ll also need one flat rock that will serve as the stone in front of the tomb.
- Use hot glue to form three crosses (adults only).
- Find a terra cotta or plastic plant saucer to use as the base.
- Lay a tiny flowerpot or substitute container on its side in the plant saucer. Cover it with a firmly packed mound of dirt so that only the opening shows.
- Cover the dirt mound with a layer of moss.
- Arrange pebbles as desired and place the flat stone upright against the dirt, beside the opening to represent the stone that was rolled away.
- Insert the three crosses into the back of the mound.
More Easter Inspiration
Find more Easter inspiration this week on Instagram from my friend, Dawn Bata. I hope you’ll share this link with families you know. https://instagram.com/dawnbata_aheartformoms
For more family ideas, visit my Pinterest Easter board.
P. S. In the next post, we will continue our series on imitating Christ.