Easter Baskets or Butter Bowls?

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The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

Mark 10:13-16 (MSG)

Every year for thirty-three years, my Mama, "the Easter Bunny", has hippity-hopped her way into the kitchen, with an Easter "basket"--a plastic butter bowl--full of my favorite candy.

I'll never forget a few years ago, when the she considered splurging for the first time in three decades to buy a real basket. I was devastated.

Steve Austin Easter basket butter bowl

One of my favorite things about Jesus is that He took so much of religion and turned it upside down. Jesus was the ultimate paradigm shift.

  • Want to be raised up? Get low.
  • Want to be rich? Sell everything you own and give the proceeds to the poor.

The most complex and frustrating things about Christian theology are simplified in the life and love of Jesus. 

Conventional wisdom--some might even say common sense--doesn't always equate in an economy based on faith, grace, service, and love.

And for the rule followers: you can dot every "i" and cross every "t", but without Jesus, what do you have? Without Jesus, every bit of striving to complete our good deeds with perfection still leaves us empty. 

Every single time we take the reins of religion and forget to cloak ourselves in love, we miss the point. No matter how right we are, we fall short. No matter how skillfully we defend our faith (which often includes our prejudices and politics), we are forced to face our own lack. No matter how well-known, talented, or trusted we are, if the love of Jesus doesn't ooze into everything we do, we're just a clanging cymbal.

When those who hide behind religious armor try to keep you at a safe distance, I hope you hear Jesus calling all us "little ones", with our simplified faith, to come and sit in his lap. To linger in his presence. To play at his feet. Full of questions and curiosity.

Do you see Jesus?

He's sitting, slightly smirking, willing to answer every question, but far more interested in letting you wonder with whimsy at his feet.

The faith of a child doesn't need frilly bows and stuffed animals at Easter.

And how often have I been guilty of trying to decorate my faith with baskets of religion? How often have I stuffed the fake grass of Christian piety and platitudes into porcelain pots, when all people are looking for is a butter bowl, filled with love?

Religion is complicated. Grace is not. Steve Austin

When it comes to Jesus, just a butter bowl will do.

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*Photo Credit: Annie Spratt