Saturday, April 11, 2009
Spring Celebrations and Easter Reflections
On Thursday, the children and I baked our own matzah to celebrate Passover in our own small way. We ate the unleavened bread, drank grape juice, and read the stories of the first Passover as well as the Passover Jesus celebrated with His disciples, the one we know as the Last Supper. (Incidentally, Biblical Holidays is a great resource for Christians who are interested in the reasons for and ways to celebrate traditional holidays such as Passover.) Next year, I hope perhaps to have an actual Passover seder that focuses on God's promises and the life of Christ.
On Friday, we made edible birds' nests, including a chocolate free version for Hayden, to tie into our study of backyard birds. The messy project resulted in a fun dessert that will be perfect to share with family after Easter dinner on Sunday. Yet I am hesitant to call it an Easter dessert, because something in me always feels a little uncomfortable about anything that equates Easter with spring. It is much the same feeling I have about Santa and reindeer dominating the holiday called CHRISTmas. Is the day really about Christ, or something else?
It wouldn't be so bad if the holidays were on different days, or at least had different names. But if we as Christians declare a day sacred to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, how can we then embrace the American holiday of the same name that celebrates a magical, egg-hiding bunny?
The day of Christ's resurrection had nothing to do with bunnies and chicks or pastels and jelly beans. A day worth celebrating? Absolutely, for it was that morning on which the course of history was changed. Sinful man was given a chance at redemption. Mercy and grace were poured out by a loving heavenly Father. And with His return to life, the Son proved the validity of His claims to deity, as he stood triumphant over death and destruction. Certainly, we have cause for celebration.
Yet somewhere in time, our so-called Easter celebrations started to focus on the season of spring. Between choruses of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," families are dying eggs, hunting for treasures, and filling baskets with goodies. (If you like hunting for Easter eggs, I suggest learning about finding the Afikoman during Passover, a tradition that reminds us of Christ!) Traditions, old and new, can provide opportunities for families to spend time together and make fun memories for our children, but they can never take the place of true worship. Too often, they take the focus away from the supposed reason for the holiday. I do not want to claim a holiday as religious if the thoughts of food and festivities are so consuming that Jesus, the Son of God Himself, becomes an afterthought.
If Easter is about celebrating spring and new life, then bunnies and eggs are appropriate, but our celebration mimics that of the pagans. If Easter is about Christ, I want it to be about Christ. If He is all, then nothing more is needed. I do not need chocolate bunnies or even substitutes that trivialize the significance of the old rugged cross. I do not need to see someone dressed in a rabbit suit as a rival for my attention. I do not need to dine on the traditional ham that Jesus, being Jewish, would never have eaten. I need only to know that my Savior is risen.
And not just on Easter or Passover or Sunday, but every day, I must hold that event precious in my heart. The hope of new life is not found in an egg; it is found in an empty tomb. Christ's resurrection gives my life meaning, for through His sacrifice I can have eternal life with Him. How can baskets of bunnies and colorful eggs compare to that glorious hope?
Whether you celebrate Christian Easter, American Easter, Passover, or consider each day alike, I hope you will join me in reflecting on the death and resurrection of our Savior. Jesus has risen from the dead, just as He promised He would. May we all rejoice that our God is forever alive!
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." - Matthew 28:5-6a