So much has been said recently about Easter, Passover and the rising of Christ that it seems almost redundant to mention it again, but I am going to anyway.
With the month of April nearing an end, and summer just around the corner it is easy to look out across our lawns and marvel at the things we have accomplished and the things still left to be done. We think of these things without much thought to the real designer, the real worker, and the one who gave the ultimate so that all that we have and all that we do is only possible through Him. Easter and Passover may be just a distant memory as you read this, but they shouldn't be.
Every year about this time thousands of people descend upon the old city of Jerusalem to pray, meditate or just to say they were there. Many write their names or the names of a loved one on pieces of paper and force the paper into crevices or between the stones in the walls. They look into the "tomb" and stare, pray and cry and ask for forgiveness of their sins, wellness, wealth or happiness. It is not until they leave that they notice the sign stating, "He is not here, for He is risen." Not all of those who visit this place are Christians, but if they aren't they secretly hope they're wrong, and silently pray anyway. And therein lies the real dichotomy.
We want to believe when it suits us, when our children or a loved one is ill. We want to believe when we are depressed, or when we see others suffering. We want to believe when it is convenient.
But what about when it isn't so easy? What about when we see children hurt and too often killed by those who are supposed to be keeping them safe? What about animals who are beaten, forced to fight for their food, their lives and their very existence? We want to believe, but do we? When faced with the question of whether or not there is a God? A Heaven? We too often look away, and stumble or mutter. My step-=daughter has taught me that proudly speaking out for God is something we should do at least daily. She often reminds her father and me that Jesus gave His life for our sins by dying on the cross, and rising from the dead. His unselfish act, and his willingness to acknowledge each of us paved the way for us to live with God someday.
"Jesus said 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.'"
(John 11:2526, ESV).
The life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is not about Easter Bunnies or colored eggs. It isn't even about candles and processions of spiritual leaders in ornate robes.
The Easter Bunny is all about the Goddess of fertility, Eostra. Eostra was symbolized with the rabbit and it is believed that she crossed over; the Easter Bunny is about fertility, afterall. One could argue that fertility is life and if Jesus is Life then maybe the Easter Bunny plays an integral role, but I believe there is a slight difference here.
As for Easter eggs, that is also a matter of, forgive the term, paganism. Just as the act of eating fish on Friday is believed by some to be a religious ritual of sorts, it was actually to help the fishermen due to poor economic times. That is basically the same for the Easter egg. In Medieval Europe, the church forbade followers to consume eggs during Lent. The eggs were stored and consumed on Easter. I used to tell my students that if they could just find the source of the money, they would find the true answer. The Ancients were not a lot different from the leaders today.
We are too eager sometimes to remove the real reason for our celebrations. If we stop long enough we will see there is a religious thread to most of what we do. Easter is not unlike Christmas when it comes to the power of the dollar. Easter is just another victim of commercialism, and the answer to an almost insatiable appetite for chocolate. How very sad.
It seems to me that we have allowed ourselves to quickly celebrate and forget the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ because it is too easy to take credit for who we are and what we do. It is too easy to count the dollars and remind ourselves that it really is all about us, when in actuality it should be all about Him.
We can't control the decisions of others, but we can control what we believe in and how we respond to those around us. Easter is over for this year; Christmas is just a little over eight months away. When we see the daffodils and tulips blooming, when we see the robins building their nests, and when we look to the sky and feel the sun on our faces let's not forget the real creator. Let's carry this Easter season a little longer in our hearts. After all, as a good friend told me the other night that, "God is good, and he answers prayers." He was so right.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org