Trumped. By chocolate.
I had worked all week with my almost-four-year-old, Joelle, on the meaning of Easter. We’d made little paper Jesus figures and pinned them to the cross. We’d washed feet, made pretend alabaster jars of paper and sprayed them with perfume for Jesus’ head. We’d put Jesus on a paper donkey and made palm branches, then placed him in a garden made with flowers from the yard. And on Friday, we’d taken Jesus from the cross, wrapped him in fabric, and placed him in the tomb, a box with a rock on top.
Now it was Sunday morning. We raced to the tomb and found the stone rolled away. Joelle opened her box and saw the fabric. But Jesus was gone. He was risen. We cheered and laughed and clapped our hands. We hollered, “He is risen!”
Then, we hunted for Easter baskets.
That was my undoing. Joelle found her basket, and the chocolate in it. “Chocolate!” she shrieked.
I picked up the basket and set it on the counter. “We’ll have that after lunch, okay?”
“Now, let’s get ready for church.”
She cast one last, longing glance at the candy, then tromped upstairs.
In fifteen minutes, we had dressed in our fancy Easter dresses and hurried off to church. We weren’t there for two minutes when the moment arrived. I held my breath as Pastor Mark walked up and leaned over the row of seats in front of us. He looked at Joelle and smiled. “So, can you tell me what Easter’s all about?”
My chest puffed. Surely Joelle would know the answer to that! After all, we had a whole week of activities behind us. Jesus is risen. I rehearsed the words in my mind, willing her to say them.
She lifted her chin.
Joelle smiled. And then she told Pastor Mark the meaning of Easter, in single word: “Chocolate!”
My face fell.
My husband snickered.
Chocolate. I’d been beaten by a handful of candy. Somehow, a few chocolates in the bottom of a basket overwhelmed a whole week of stories and crafts and activities. But then, I should have known. Joelle loves chocolate. She always has. To her, it’s the best thing in the world.
Music started at the front of the church. Joelle settled into her seat. A minute later, Grandpa arrived and sat next to us. Joelle sidled over to him.
He gave her a hug and whispered, “Happy Easter.”
And then, something amazing happened. Joelle told Grandpa the story of Easter – all of it, about Jesus and the perfume, Jesus on the cross, Jesus risen from the tomb, Jesus alive forever and in our hearts.
My husband looked over at me and winked.
I shook my head. Joelle did know what Easter was all about. Jesus, and chocolate. Both made her happy.
I glanced over at her grinning face. Then, I realized the truth. To her, there was no profound difference between the secular and the holy. To her, everything good was holy, even chocolate. Especially chocolate. Jesus being alive was good and wonderful. Chocolate was good and wonderful. So what better way to celebrate the ultimate gift of Christ’s resurrection than with the best thing we have – chocolate.
Joelle understood that. And maybe she was right. Maybe the separation between God-things and regular-life-stuff wasn’t as wide as I’d thought. After all, Scripture says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 1:17, NIV). Every good gift. Life . . . and chocolate.
I smiled and rose to my feet and the first song began. Today, I would thank God for Jesus, and for every good gift that I could enjoy because of him, because he rose on the third day. I would thank him for salvation, for freedom, for life and love. I would even thank him for chocolate.