God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
29 March 2012Posted by on
Sometimes non-believers ask the best questions. In the past week or two, I was exchanging instant messages with a high school friend from the Old Country and that person asked me, “What is Easter anyway?” Growing up in the atheistic Soviet Union there was a day when we could buy special cakes that looked like they were made in a round bread machine, light and fluffy in texture with raisins inside and frosted with a butter-vanilla frosting (see inserted picture).
In public squares, state stores would set up a display of butter and chocolate butter shaped as lambs and bunny rabbits (see inserted picture), there would be music on the streets and a festive mood would linger in the air. That day was called “Pasha” – which translates as “Easter,” even though there was nothing religious about that day. As a kid I loved these weekends because they signified to me that winter was finally over, annual spring exams were on their way (I was the only kid I knew that was looking forward to that) with summer freedom in their tow.
There is a lot of confusion as to what Easter is about. For some, Easter is about the Easter Bunny, colorfully decorated Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, and family dinners. Most USAmericans know that Easter has something to do with Jesus and the Resurrection; most have no idea what Jesus and the Resurrection have to do with Easter eggs or the Easter bunny.
In reality there is absolutely no connection between the Resurrection and the modern traditions related to the calendar day when we celebrate Easter. As Christianity was spreading across Europe, the ancient Church adapted pagan fertility rituals to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection (these rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions) as a way to evangelize Pagans and explain the Resurrection to them.
The Gospels and the Early Christian Writings make it clear that Jesus was resurrected on Sunday (See Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19; 1 Cor 15) and that this historic event is the source of our hope.
I believe that Jesus’ resurrection should be celebrated every time we feel the flooring under our feet for the first time in the morning, with every breath that we take and every time we feel even the smallest trace of God’s love and grace in our lives.
As we get ready for Easter 2012, I want to ask you, “Is Easter a day with very special customs and traditions, or is it a historic event that feeds your soul and fills your life with hope? Is it just another calendar day in your life?” Or to paraphrase my friend from high school: “What does Easter mean to you anyway?”
Happy Easter! Our hope is rooted in the wonderful knowledge that we are understood and forgiven by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and led and transformed by God the Holy Spirit!