Have you ever considered giving someone an empty box as a birthday gift? Your nine-year-old son, maybe? Despite the widely-accepted truth that a baby or even a toddler will often prefer the empty box or the wrapping paper to the shiny new toy inside, generally speaking, empty surprises are not the best kind to any of us, much less elementary school children.
On Easter Sunday, our preschool and elementary children had a day full of empty surprises. And, surprisingly, those empty ones turned out to be the most exciting after all.
Ever heard of a “resurrection roll”? Take one marshmallow and imagine it is Jesus’ body. Anoint it in oils and spices (aka melted butter and cinnamon sugar) and wrap it in grave cloths (aka crescent roll dough). Then put it in the “tomb” (that is, the oven) for three days (or just 11 minutes).
The result is a shockingly empty (and delicious) representation of what the women saw that first Easter.
Or, have you ever colored an Easter egg? What about if you colored a raw one…and then dropped it on a table? Threw it at the wall? A mess, that’s what you’d get. No surprise there. (Fun, yes. But surprising? No.)
If that egg had been blown first–surprise!–you would not get the mess you expected, not at all. Another empty surprise! (And, as an elementary school student, you might be just a little disappointed not to see your buddy slathered in egg. If you were a boy, maybe. Just a little.)
I’m grateful today, as a grown up who has heard the empty tomb story ever-so-many times, for the fresh reminder in our children’s Easter surprise: emptiness! and joy!