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  • Jonathan Roach

Easter Eggs as a Spiritual Practice

Originally published in the Coconut Wireless, April 6, 2022.

Breathe deeply: in and out. Slowly and deeply. And know you are in the presence of the living God: Creator, Savior, Protector. We are pilgriming through our last week of Lent 2022. In just a couple of days, we will be entering Holy Week, and I invite all of us to prepare our minds, hearts, and souls for this sacred season with the simple spiritual practice of coloring Easter eggs. I know this might come as a surprise to many people that Easter eggs can be a spiritual practice to empower us to open ourselves to the living God, but they can!

I grew up in the church with my father as my pastor. But I have to admit that I remember more about Easter eggs than any Easter sermon. Sorry Dad! I remember as a small child coloring eggs by boiling them with beets to get a deep red natural dye. I remember one Easter when I was sick as I watched the Easter Egg hunt from the kitchen window in the parsonage and looking down, I could see where many of the eggs were hidden in the church yard. I remember coloring eggs with those tiny plastic cups and dye tablets in Sunday School. I didn't understand then that these practices with Easter eggs were milestones in my faith development and my understanding of God as savior, the God of creativity and beauty, and the miracle of the empty tomb.

Coloring Easter eggs is an ancient practice in Christianity. We have references to the practice dating back to the second and third centuries from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. And today it is practiced around the world. In the fourth century, Christians started bringing their Easter eggs with them to Easter Sunday. As soon as that ancient cry, "Christ is Risen!", went up, they started peeling and eating those colored eggs because many of them had been fasting from noon on Good Friday until Easter sunrise to mark the hours that Christ was in the tomb. In many Christian Orthodox areas, Christians would dye their eggs red to remember the Crucifixion, paint the eggs with the Greek letters for Christ is Risen, shine the colored eggs with olive oil, and then place them on the graves of friends and family as a reminder of the promise of the Resurrection. In Ukraine, mothers would paint Easter eggs for each member of their family after everyone else had gone to bed on Maundy Thursday and each brush stroke was a prayer. And there are so many more rituals and practices with coloring Easter eggs that empower us to realize we are in the presence of the living God.

On Maundy Thursday, my wife, Jihey Roach; my daughter, Gracie; and I will color Easter eggs together, and it will strengthen our faith as followers of the living Christ. Whether you have children in your life or not, I invite you to join in this ancient spiritual practice next week. This practice has so much to teach us about: creative prayer, the contemplative arts, fasting, ritual, gift giving and gratitude, stillness, and so much more. Breathe deeply: in and out. Slowly and deeply. And know you are in the presence of the living God: Creator, Savior, Protector…the God who loves you.

Jonathan Roach, Associate Conference Minister


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