Once my Jewish friend Rene said to me, “I don’t know why you guys always ruin your religious holidays with weird symbols like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. Christians have all the best holy days, but you always go and mess them up?”
As I stood there looking at my Easter basket full of plastic green grass and neon pink plastic eggs, I knew she had a point. That’s why I was interested in Mark Driscoll’s take on what Christian parents should tell their kids about the Easter bunny in yesterday’s Washington Post.
Easter is the biggest Sunday of the year for Christians—and rightfully so. It’s an occasion for us to celebrate the Resurrection, the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, and death. It’s also when a few of the more “interesting” folks in the church, the kind who like to write end-times charts on ammo boxes in crayon, come out of the woods to rail against the day as a pagan holiday.
He explains the history of the holiday and how his family handles it:
My wife, Grace, and I choose to tell our five kids that the Easter Bunny, while fun, isn’t a real, magical bunny that hops from house to house laying colored eggs, candies, and toys on Easter morning. That’s a make-believe story, and we have no objections to fun and imagination so long as the kids also know that the Resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact and not a fanciful myth. With the overt commercialization that comes along with the Easter Bunny, and consequently Easter, as parents we don’t want to lose sight of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But that doesn’t mean those things are bad in and of themselves. We simply want to enjoy them in their proper context. We are for fun. We are for Jesus…
We take the same approach to the Easter Bunny the way we do with Santa Claus at Christmas. We don’t demonize the Easter Bunny, but enjoy the tradition for what it is without making it the main theme of the holiday. Having your children’s pictures taken with the Easter Bunny or going on Easter egg hunts are all about having fun and making good memories. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the festivities as long as they don’t overshadow Jesus.
I applaud Driscoll’s even-handed approach to the secular symbols, and definitely think that Christian parents can – in good conscience – have Easter baskets and egg hunts.
However, one would hope that the church doesn’t necessarily try to work the secular into our holy days, as my Jewish friend said, to “go and mess them up.” Yet for a couple of weeks, in my hometown of Columbia, Tennessee, I’ve driven by several gigantic billboards which advertise the upcoming Easter Service of a local Baptist church:
I’m not sure what this is even supposed to mean. Are they pointing us to the true meaning of Easter: Match making? Companionship? Is the “new friend” supposed to slyly suggest Jesus Christ? Why are the chicks wearing glasses? Is it some sort of misguided allusion to the pro-traditional marriage bumper stickers? If so, why do the chicks seem so androgynous?
I have no answers.
Perhaps the elders at the church hope to entice people from the community to come for the companionship the yellow fluffy chicks promised, but leave with a saving power of the blood of Jesus Christ. I happen to love the church… not only is it one of the largest in town, it has a heart for evangelism and is filled with some great folks. (Some of my best friends!) That’s why the signs dotting the landscape of our town are so mystifying.
These types of billboards – and the whole bunny/egg-phenomenon generally – indicates a certain lack of spiritual wonder that should be a central part of the holiday. A man – God! – died for sins. At the cross, there is forgiveness. Shame has been erased. Death itself was conquered!
It’s like trying to describe a platinum diamond ring from Tiffany’s by cooly blowing a ring of smoke from a cigarette. “See? They’re both rings. Aren’t rings cool?”
No, we shouldn’t have to entice people into thinking Easter is cool, because it is actually amazing.
This year, let’s don’t settle for chicks and cheap, foil covered chocolate melted in the spring sun.
There’s something better.
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