We have this little tradition that we started last year at Easter…a simple little activity that has become quite significant for us: a “crown of thorns.”
(I first read this idea in a post by Ann Voskamp here: Three Bowls & A Crown of Thorns on Holy Week)
I put a little grapevine wreath on the dining room table, right beside our Jesus Tree. Next to the wreath is a cup of toothpicks. The wreath is the crown and the toothpicks are the thorns. Every time we do something that needs forgiveness in these days leading up to Easter – for every sin each day – we pick up a toothpick and add it to the wreath…we add a thorn to the crown.
We’ve encouraged the girls to pray and talk to God each time they add a thorn...acknowledge that sin, and thank Him for His forgiveness. We don’t necessarily share each one out loud – it is a personal, between-me-and-God thing – but our wreath is filling up, and I often see the girls quietly adding a “thorn” and bowing their heads – it’s sinking in. Mark and I are adding our thorns too….every day. There is just something significant about physically adding each toothpick, acknowledging each sin, realizing the depth of God’s love and forgiveness as I recognize how very far from perfect I really am.
It’s a simple activity. A small tradition. But we do it to remember. We do it so that Jesus’ sacrifice, His suffering, doesn’t become mundane or trivial in our hearts.
Because there is nothing mundane about His death. And there is nothing trivial about His forgiveness.
I think it’s easy to put ourselves in little boxes and say that “all those other sins” are what caused Jesus to really suffer…my sins aren’t that bad…sure, I need forgiveness, but not as much as “that” person. We play this comparison game, whether to make us feel better about ourselves or maybe so we won’t feel so bad about our own sin. And we read the story of Jesus’ death and think to ourselves that we would never have yelled “crucify!” We would never have nailed Him to that tree. We would never….
And yet…we did.
With each angry outburst, with every jealous thought, with each word of gossip, with every little white lie, with each choice made from greed, and with every unkind deed – every single sin, however “small” or “big” we make it in our mind – every. single. one – was torture to Jesus. He took on ALL of our sins…ALL. Of. Them. Each one pierced His head, cut through His hands, stabbed through His feet, straight into His breaking broken heart…He took on every single sin, and poured out His very life…because of me. He died for each of those little thorns I put in this wreath on our table. He suffered and bled and was tortured…for ME…for MY sins. So that I could be forgiven.
That’s a big deal. That’s important. That’s something I never ever want to lose sight of…I never want to forget. His death was not just some picture in a storybook – it was bloody and messy and painful and horrible. But it was also the most beautiful sacrifice, the most selfless love, the most amazing grace. Jesus willingly took on all my sins and died…for me – then He defeated death and broke the curse of sin…for me. He did it all…for me…for you…because He loves us so much.
So today, I’m sure our crown will receive a few more thorns…because daily we fail. But daily He loves us. And each time we add a thorn, we remember the immensity of His love and the depth of His forgiveness.
Our sins pierced His brow so His love could pierce our hearts. He was broken so that we could be made whole.
May we never take for granted this indescribable gift. May we always remember. May we always give thanks.
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More ideas on creating meaningful family Easter traditions are in my Easter Family Devotions Kit. Read the original post here: Creating Traditions That Help Us Remember. Or go directly to the entire kit here: Easter Family Devotions Kit.