What Makes Easter Important?
When I hear people talk about Easter it sounds like the most important thing is candy.
Some of us talk about eggs and bunnies, bonnets and big family meals. It sounds like, though, the most important thing is candy.
In fact, Easter does not seem to be dramatically different from Halloween or Valentine’s Day.
It feels like our holidays have all been blended together and the most important part of all of them is deciding what candy to buy.
I suppose it might be understandable for anyone who has a Lent discipline about sugar. Some of us have been waiting so long the candy it takes on a crucial significance.
Is Easter really, along with all the others, a holiday dedicated to sugar and candy?
It is a challenge to believe, with our increasing incidences of obesity and diabetes, we need holidays about candy. There must be something more.
If it is not the candy, what is so important?
I know people who go to church every night for the three nights before Easter. These special services include liturgical practices many churches only observe once each year. What could get people, people we actually know, to spend three evenings in a row going to church?
Why is Easter important to us? How is it important to you?
Does Easter really make a difference to us?
For many of us one important part is how it fits into and shapes the story we share.
We believe in resurrection, in living even when we have died. Many of us have had experiences which were a form of death, and we are alive again. Easter is about changing our understanding of life and death.
Death does not have the final say. Life is more powerful than death. That is better than candy.
What Makes Easter Important to Me
When I was growing up, Easter was about eggs and bunnies, candy and clothes. And church.
It was an event. We bought new clothes and dyed hard-boiled eggs which were hiding all over the house in the morning. There were baskets full of candy and toys on a bed of green plastic “grass” waiting for us in the morning.
We got up early, while it was still dark, to drive to a church service with special music at dawn.
Specific facts about Easter fit with specific facts about the rest of what, and how, I believed.
I cannot remember a year in which I have not heard at least part of the story of Easter in a church. There were times when I felt tired of hearing it, bored, when I thought I already knew all the details of the story.
The way I appreciate Easter has changed along with the way I appreciate spiritual life.
I began to realize already knowing the details of the story did not mean I had heard everything the story had to tell me. My realization blossomed into new understanding. I began to recognize knowing the answers was often not as helpful as asking good, honest questions. My questions helped me grow spiritually stronger, not weaker.
My Easter has become less of an event, more of a way of living. Each day can be filled with resurrection.
I thought I knew the answers, thought I knew how the story ends.
Easter is about how the story goes on.
What Difference Does Easter Make?
It is difficult for us to talk about spiritual life.
For some of us spiritual life is wrapped up in a transcendence beyond our understanding. We experience something which causes us to explore what we believe. How can we find words to describe an experience which changes how we see our lives?
Others of us become captives of the language we hear about spiritual life. We hear theological explanations and teaching put into unfamiliar words. Many of us have not taken the time to appreciate whether that language matches our own stories.
Many others of us have decided the confusing, conceptual talk about spiritual life is not worth it. We ask questions and are more questioning after we hear the explanations.
If our Easter is going to be about more than just buying the right candy, we need to know what difference it makes.
Easter is about the stories we hear in churches, but it is so much more. It is not merely conceptual or philosophical. It is not just a debate about what we think or how we feel.
There is more to Easter than candy and bunnies, eggs and bonnets and big family meals, or church.
Easter is a Matter of Life and Death
We live our lives in the shadow of death. A few of us can see death just beyond the horizon. Some of ur friends and members of our families have already died. We may want to look death straight in the eye or we might want to run away from death as long as we can.
Easter is a holiday which celebrates the most dramatic example of spiritual life overcoming death.
The story is about life and death, darkness and light, friendship and betrayal, men and women. We hear about suffering and release, brutality and kindness, justice and mercy.
The story of Easter is about the same things which fill our everyday lives. It is a mirror which reflects our own struggles and our own possibilities back to us.
Many of us know what it feels like to be abandoned and alone. We know what it means to doubt we can go even one more step further. Some of us recognize the experience of being falsely accused.
Our Easter is not about candy or eggs or bunnies.
Why is Easter important to us today?
How does Easter make a difference for us this week?
[Image by terren in Virginia]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.