From The Pastor’s Desk

March 8th, 2015 by Kali Lewis

Pastor DonI have found it to be a tremendously interesting phenomenon that, at least in recent American history, the “holiday” of Christmas has become the most recognized and celebrated of Christian events. Certainly, this had to do with the way in which the culture at large can identify with various aspects of what Christmas seems to embody: the disposition of giving (particularly to those in need), the joy of gathering with family, and the possibility of hope to come.

   Easter, however, is not recognized as much. Certainly there is a commercial aspect to it that I don’t think Christians, or non-Christians, understand very much at all. I have always wondered why we associate Easter with a bunny and eggs?

   Why Easter Eggs? For Christians, the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Painting Easter eggs is an especially beloved tradition in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches where the eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross. Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal Vigil and distributed to the congregants. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Moreover, historically Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent, and Easter was the first chance to eat eggs after a long period of abstinence. Orthodox Christians continue to abstain from eggs during Lent.

   Like the origin of Easter, the origin of the Easter Bunny has roots that go back to pre-Christian, Anglo-Saxon history. The holiday was originally a pagan celebration that worshipped the goddess Eastre.   She was the goddess of fertility and springtime, and her earthly symbol was the rabbit. Thus, the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons worshipped the rabbit believing it to be Eastre’s earthly incarnation. When the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity, the pagan holiday, which occurred around the same time as the Christian memorial of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, was combined with the Christian celebration, and given the name Easter. Today, Easter is often commercialized, with all the focus on eggs, the Easter bunny, and etc. Because of this, many churches are starting to refer to it as Resurrection Day.

I also found it interesting with recording artists, both secular and Christian, that most have recorded Christmas album after Christmas album. From Garth Brooks to Mariah Carey, to Michael W. Smith, to Il Divo. This season is really important to them. $$$$$

So I’ve wondered—why doesn’t anybody release an Easter album? Or better yet, why not a Good Friday album? Do you think that would sell? Too dark and depressing? I certainly don’t want to get into ranking Christian events, like a Letterman top-ten list, but there is a disconcerting disproportion of attention, even among Christians, to what is at the heart of the Gospel, the Good News.

   What is forgotten about Christmas is that, it is an event when God entered the mess of human history in order to save it from darkness. The hope that was recounted from the lips of those who saw baby Jesus— “he has come to SAVE us.” This was the beginning of a life that would eventually be given, once and for all, on a cursed tree (as the Bible prophesied). Christmas anticipates the Passion of Christ. The reminder of what was accomplished for us on that Friday over 2000 years ago and what the resurrection, 3 days later meant in terms of understanding that death was tremendously important.

This is why Easter has always been tremendously important for me—particularly the service of Good Friday. It is because I bring nothing to this event.   I add nothing in “making it memorable.” I can’t upstage last year by giving better gifts, or being more festive, or etc. It is, without any qualification, an event that is entirely God’s loving and saving action for me, undeserved, to which I give only one thing in response: me. I surrender my life in faith to one who gave his life for me.

   And paradoxically—this dark hour is the occasion of my greatest hope and joy. Join us for our Good Friday service where we celebrate the joy of the empty tomb. The two are inseparable—without death there is no resurrection.

In His Service, Pastor Don