While looking at the calendar, I noted that Easter is going to be later this year, which may not mean a great deal unless you sell Easter candy or pastel colored stuff.
While people often call out the calculating commercialization of Christmas, they fail to see the clever candy plot that plays out in years like this. The unsuspecting public is drawn into buying all of the special holiday inspired candy — only to consume it all and be forced to buy even more before the big day actually arrives.
Unlike Christmas, which has its perpetual fixed day on the calendar, I assume you are familiar with the date. Easter is a “movable feast” dependent on moon cycles that cause it to range between March 22 and April 25. This year’s celebration is close to end of those potential dates.
Easter is arguably the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, and unlike Christmas, was observed from the earliest days of the church as Resurrection Day. I will cheerfully admit I am not sure where the word Easter even comes from; one popular theory is it’s from the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess, Eostre. But it doesn’t really matter, any more than the Easter Bunny may symbolize the hare, the Egyptian symbol of fertility.
The real focus of the celebration of resurrection day is this: the dramatic conclusion of God’s desire and master plan to bring human kind back into relationship with Himself. Resurrection Day was and is the fulfillment of the new covenant written in the blood of the once and perfect sacrifice of the God man Jesus. The one described by John the baptizer as recorded in the first chapter of his letter to the church: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NIV
This single Lamb of God stood in sharp contrast to the historic sacrifices in the temple with thousands of animals involved, which had became empty and meaningless to the people who offered them and as a result to God Himself. Through the prophet Isaiah, God reminded Judah, “The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” Isaiah 1:11 NIV
I do not have the space to quote the entire first chapter in this column, but I recommend it as profitable reading, because God went on to say the people’s religious ceremony had become a burden to Him.
Resurrection Day is not about the establishment of a new order of religious activity; it is about a restoration of relationship through the death of Christ on the cross, where the dying words of the perfect sacrifice were “It is finished.” The debt has been paid. The empty tomb draws us to the celebration of the victory of life over death, and the promise of sharing in His eternal life.
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.