From the Unity With Nature Committee:
Lesson Two: Easter & Rebirth – Spring Renewal & Gardening for Wildlife
PART I: Let’s Talk About Easter
(adapt as you want for younger children)
Easter is a Christian holiday commemorating the mystery of the resurrection, or rebirth of Jesus. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus each year between March 22-April 25 (the first Sunday after the vernal, or Spring equinox). There were ancient celebrations for this same time of year, long before Christ, during the time of the full moon near the vernal equinox – celebrations welcoming spring and all the new life that it brings.
Do Quakers Celebrate Easter? From our Faith and Practice: Holidays, Friends maintain, are no more holy than other days. Therefore, early Quakers did not celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas since it’s a good idea to remember the good messages all year round. Goose Creek Friends do celebrate Easter today in some ways through our traditional Easter breakfast and annual “Photo on the Porch”. Questions or ideas?
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”Matthew 28:5-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.1 Peter 1:3
So where do the Easter Bunnies and Easter Eggs come in?
The timing of Easter in olden times was such that it coincided with the spring festivals of many pagan religions. (In northern Europe, the goddess of spring was Eostre — some people say that Easter may have even gotten its name from this goddess).
These spring festivals celebrated the awakening of the world after spring. The ideas of the rebirth of spring were merged with the Christian teachings of Jesus’ resurrection to form the Easter holiday most of us know today. Easter eggs come from the idea that eggs are seeds of life and so are symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection. The Easter Bunny, or “Easter Hare”, is a symbol of fertility, as rabbits have often multiple births.
Easter Traditions. Easter traditions differ around the world. Here are just a few of them:
Children in the United States and Canada say the Easter bunny or rabbit brings eggs at Easter.
In Germany and England, they say the hare brings them. The hare looks like a rabbit, but it’s larger, with longer ears and legs.
In Australia, rabbits are quite a nuisance as they are not native to the land. For this reason, some Australians are seeking to dub the Bilby as the chief egg bringer of the land. For lack of a better description, the Bilby looks a bit like a cross between a mouse and a rabbit.
In Italy, Belgium and France, children say Easter eggs are brought by the church bells. There, church bells do not ring from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. Because of this, people say that the bells have flown off to Rome. As the bells fly back home for Easter, they drop colored eggs for boys and girls to find.
But there are more foods than eggs to enjoy on Easter! People in Russia eat an Easter bread that is full of plump white raisins and tastes like cake. In some countries of Eastern Europe, people enjoy an Easter Cake called babka. It’s shaped like a skirt — babka means “little old woman”. Easter cakes in Italy are shaped like a rabbit, a symbol of birth and new life, and many other countries make cookies and cakes shaped like a lamb, a symbol of Jesus. Hot cross buns are another traditional Easter bread with icing in the shape of a cross.
What Easter traditions does your family enjoy? Do you make Easter eggs, have an Easter egg hunt, eat a special Easter meal?
The Mystery of the Easter Story
The story of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter is a mystery. Mystery means there are things that happen that we don’t understand and can’t explain. A mystery can be hard to understand. Sometimes we just need to listen, and to watch and to breathe in the mystery before it begins to open to us.
During this time of year, when spring is bringing new life to the world again, there are many mysteries, such as:
– How does the earth know when to leave the darkness of winter and turn into spring?
– How does a baby bird know it’s time to break free from the egg?
– How does a tree that had dark, empty branches in the winter start to grow leaves?
– How does the grass come back to life and turn green again?
– How do caterpillars, alone in their cocoons, turn into butterflies?
There is one more part of the story to help us, the one at the center of Easter. The baby who was born at Christmastime grew to be a man named Jesus, who said wonderful things and did amazing things. People began to follow him and wanted to know more. He taught about love and forgiveness. He showed God’s love for all people in the way he lived. Which one of our SPICES represents this way of life?
When Jesus died on the cross people were sad. His body was taken and placed in a tomb, and a heavy stone was rolled over the doorway. Then a mysterious thing happened. People found that Jesus was still with them, in a wondrous new way. Even though Jesus left this world long ago, his teachings remain and inspire a lot of people to try and live as he did. In what ways is this a rebirth or resurrection?
The stories about Jesus show us the power of God’s love to transform …
… death to life
… darkness to light
… sadness to joy
… hurt to forgiveness
… hatred to love
… winter into spring
God’s love is for everyone. Jesus showed us the power of his love, and his words and work are still with us today. Spring returns each year and brings backlight and life. God is always with us. What about today do you like the most?
PART II: Gardening & Our Stewardship Testimony
Our First Day School many years ago helped our Unity with Nature Committee plant a special garden on our Meetinghouse property. Do you know where it is located? Do you know why it is special?
Hints: It’s near Oakdale School and was planted in the shape of a butterfly around a big rock.
It’s in the shape of a butterfly because it was originally planted to be a butterfly garden. That’s a garden that includes plants that butterflies need for food and shelter. We are practicing our Quaker stewardship testimony when we help butterflies, right? Can you say how?
Ever since it was planted First Day School students and Unity with Nature Committee members have tended the garden, adding new plants and pulling weeds a few times a year. Unfortunately, the garden has gotten shaded over the years by a tree that has been growing next to it, so some of the plants are not growing as well as they used to. Our Committee was planning to get your help to plant new plants in our garden that are better at growing in the shade. We also want to add more native plants and pollinator plants so that our garden will be easier to take care of and will help bees and other pollinators, as well as the butterflies, birds and other wildlife.
Since we can’t work on our garden together right now, we have another idea for you:
Your Mission: Design your own garden in your yard at home or for our garden at Goose Creek Meeting. Remember, for our garden we need to know which plants will thrive under shady conditions. If you decide to design your home garden, you’ll need to consider which native plants would live best in your home habitat conditions. Here are some resources to help you with your design.
Why plant native? (Building on Last Week’s Introduction to Native Plants)
Discover here why it is so vitally important to plant native species. Everything you need to know is on this National Wildlife website so it is an excellent place to start your learning expedition: https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants
It’s a Good Thing There are insects – Allan Fowler
World of Wonder: The Food Chain – Frank Staub
Step Gently Out – Helen Frost and Rick Lieder
What if there were no Bees? A Book about the Grassland Ecosystem – Suzanne Slade
A Place for Butterflies – Melissa Stewart
Planting the Wild Garden – Kathryn O. Galbraith
For older readers, study works by Doug Tallamy: The Living Landscape
More at-home activities & resources
Design your own garden
Draw a picture map of your proposed garden plan and label each plant you want to include on your map. Include plants that provide food, cover and a water source.
Watch a nature video
If you haven’t watched the wonderful video about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone, and the impact that species have on each other, you really should. You’ll be amazed at how wolves can change the path that a river takes. https://youtu.be/ysa5OBhXz-Q
Wild Classroom Daily Activity Plans
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) connects educators and parents with the tools and resources they need to help kids explore and understand the world around them. With you, they inspire the next generation to build a future where people and nature thrive! Click here to see plans.
Want to learn something interesting about Agriculture, Horticulture, and Food while housebound? Loudoun Extension is hosting a series of 30-45 minute Zoom webinar sessions. Topics will vary, related to agriculture, horticulture, and food. Learn more: click here (Middle School through Adult)
Kindness Resources. During difficult times, we often see the most beautiful acts of kindness. Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s activities page. Learn more: click here (Families)
This list is just getting started … check back regularly for updates.
If you have ideas for activities that students and families can do from home, please contact the Religious Education co-clerks Maria and Cameron: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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Lincoln, VA 20160