Easter is almost here. Even without a calendar, when the retail color palate turns pastel this is a no brainer. Please don’t misunderstand me, I have nothing against pastels, but I have never figured out how those colors became the default color choice for Easter.
That being said Easter itself can be a bit confusing. It has apparently come to be identified as a Christian holiday and a “cultural festival.” The word Easter is from the Saxon name of the goddess Eostre; who was sacrificed to during the season of Passover with no actual connection between celebrations. It was substituted in early English for the Greek word Pascha which means Passover. I have often used the term Resurrection Sunday, not to be a religious stick in the mud, but to underscore its importance as a Christian celebration.
I get the idea of “cultural celebration.” For example, the Easter parade had its origin in New York City in the 1870s. It was an informal, unorganized Sunday stroll and its purpose was to show off new hats and fine cloths with no religious association. Now we have rabbits that cluck like chickens and Easter egg hunts which may involve need for security when adults begin acting like spoiled children, again with no religious association.
Turning again to the significance of the Christian celebration: Without the resurrection of Christ, Christianity has no basis for existence. While you may or may not identify as a Christian it is hard to conceive of a world without two thousand years of Christianity’s influence. It was not that long ago there were very few hospitals or universities without a Christian founding and sponsorship.
It would be easy to haul out the old trope about all the wars that have been fought because of religion. This on its face demonstrates a poor understanding of history and, more to the point, possibly of conflicts from some for religion, but not Christianity. Christianity has at its center the God man Christ who came to do for humankind what it could not do for itself: Simply to be reconciled to God.
The story of the man identified as “the rich young ruler” which appears in both Mark and Luke illustrates the flaw in any attempt to justify our self by our own righteousness. We could spend much more time with the story but simply following this text gives us a picture. Mark chapter 10 verse 17:
“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The young man understood there is more to life than this physical reality.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
If you are not familiar with the rest of the story I invite you to read it, but in the interest of space let me say simply the young man chose the temporary over the eternal. The resurrection of Christ celebrates His victory over the law of sin and death. He is alive so we can live with Him. Happy Easter!
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.