It is a story worth sharing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The eggs are plastic. They arrived in an appropriate purple carton, each snugly tucked in its own compartment. Some are pastel in color, others more vivid. All 12 different. And each tells a story.

Not just any story, you understand, but the greatest story of all time for Christians, one being shared this week from pulpits of varied denominations and with millions of people at sunrise services, in outdoor settings, at pew-filled churches, in elaborate cathedrals all across the world.

The plastic Resurrection Eggs, created by Family Life, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ, transcend what many consider the commercialism of the holiest of days, pushing baskets, chocolate bunnies and dyed boiled eggs aside to deliver the real and incredible message of Easter, the days of Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension.

Opening each egg (long regarded as symbols of continuing life and resurrection) in progression reveals a phase of that remarkable journey, allowing it to unfold with the anticipation of wanting to know what will happen next.

Opening each egg also builds daily preparation, understanding and depth to a new family tradition, one of emotional meaning and thanksgiving, one easily understood and appreciated by all ages.

Egg 1 is blue and contains a small toy donkey that reminds us Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a lowly donkey just before his death and resurrection.

Egg 2 is light pink. It holds three silver coins that symbolize it was Judas who accepted 30 silver coins for betraying Jesus, telling jealous priests and elders where he was so soldiers could arrest him.

The third egg is light purple. In it is a miniature cup, a chalice. It helps us remember he used the cup to share wine with his disciples at the last supper when he explained his approaching death.

Egg 4 is orange and holds small praying hands, telling us the story of a troubled Jesus who went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples.

Egg 5 is green. It contains a short strip of leather and causes us to remember after his trial by Pilate, the Roman soldiers used leather ropes with rocks and metal woven in to whip him, leaving 39 deep gashes in his skin.

The sixth egg is light yellow. In it is a rough, circular crown crafted to represent the crown of thorns placed by soldiers on his head so they could mock him by saying, &#8220Hail, King of the Jews!”

Egg 7 is yellow and holds three large nails. Shaped like a cross, those are the nails, we are reminded, that were driven into Jesus' hands and feet as he was nailed to the cross.

Egg 8 is light green. It holds dice perhaps similar to that used by Roman soldiers who gambled for the robe of Jesus.

The ninth egg is purple. In it is a tiny spear, reminding us soldiers pieced his side when he was on the cross.

Egg 10 is cream in color. A shred of material brings back the story of Joseph of Arimathea wrapping the body of Jesus in a linen cloth after he died on the cross.

Egg 11 is pink. It is heavy. It contains a stone, symbolic of the huge stone that was used to seal the tomb where Jesus was placed after the crucifixion.

And the 12th egg is light blue. It is empty like the tomb, shouting the good news that Jesus has risen from the dead, is alive again and offers hope, love and encouragement to Christians everywhere.

Designed to teach the story of Easter to youngsters in elementary school grades, the Resurrection Eggs program, celebrating its 11th anniversary this season, is a delightfully simple, hands-on success story itself.

Two methods of teaching seem most obvious.

One is with parents in the comfort of a child's home (before nightly prayers in our house) where eager children, with expressive eyes, open minds and busy hands, await each night's egg and supporting story. An accompanying scripture reading and devotional provide flexibility in telling of the actual story. And that flexibility suggests the possibility of a multi-year family tradition.

That attentive little ones can embrace quickly the illustrations that help tell the story is a delight to see. That families can together share and personalize so important a message adds even more meaning.

The other is through more formal classroom settings or as part of church, community or neighborhood Easter egg hunts. It's a growing concept pushed by Family Life, one that likely surpassed 4,000 registered hunts this year in its fourth nationally sponsored program.

Through the eggs and in the churches, we have and will sense the highs and lows of the holiest of all weeks.

We have experienced the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We will witness the somberness of that Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. And we will suffer the stark sadness and quiet of Good Friday.

Sunday, though, is a day of Christian joy.

Let us be thankful.

Ed Darling is president and publisher of Greenville Newspapers L.L.C. He can be reached at 382-3111 or at ed.darling@greenvilleadvocate. com