Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easter, again

With Easter only a week away it's been on my mind. It's a big deal when you live from Sunday to Sunday like pastors do. It's the biggest Sunday of the year. Not saying it should be or needs to be, just saying it is. It has the biggest music and the biggest attendance is on Easter. People get up real early on Easter for sunrise services. What other Sunday of the year could you get people up for a service at 7am. Most Sundays church people struggle to get to church by 11am. It has the biggest hype. You build up to it for seven weeks of Lent. Even if church people don't make a big deal of Lent still there is a countdown. Then, Good Friday, and finally, Easter.

I confess to real mixed feelings about Easter. I am not supposed to hate but my feelings for the Easter bunny come close. I can kind of tolerate the commercial - sacred tension that surrounds Christmas even though Christmas trees in churches and the whole idea behind giving gifts to each other because Jesus gave his life for us - is a huge stretch. But, at least, Christmas only falls on Sunday once in seven years. Easter is on Sunday every year. So every year is a battle between the colorful bunny and Jesus. And I see Jesus losing.

When our kids were small we did the Easter thing with eggs and baskets on Saturday. To get it out of the way and so as not to confuse them with what Easter was - a celebration of the Resurrection. I have suggested that idea to numerous Christian parents who looked at me like I was starting a cult. So, you' re left with trying to sort out how you teach the Resurrection among egg hunts, and big bunnies, and even chocolate crosses! What would the apostle Paul say to that?

I know the story about the early Christians who tried to trump the spring solstice celebrations of their culture by introducing the celebration of Easter as a Resurrection celebration. But, its not working too well today is my thought. After all how do you celebrate Resurrection. At least with Easter you can buy stuff, and give stuff, and hunt for stuff, and make up stories about easter bunnies (HOP!) and let's face it we love all that stuff! Go to the stores and there are aisles of stuff to make your Easter special. But, what do we do at church? We get people up early, we eat breakfast together, and then we try to have a grander worship service than usual. Not hard to see why we are losing out to the cultural, commercial Easter.

Here is what I will do again this year. I will devote as little time as possible to consuming Easter either in thought or buying stuff. I will buy stuff for the grandkids because they are our grandkids and wouldn't understand my theology if I tried to explain it ! But whatever we do it will be on Saturday (Holy Saturday too! Even that compromise hurts). Easter is Resurrection Sunday when we celebrate Jesus who is risen! That is our faith and we celebrate that faith on every other Sunday of the year, in fact, that faith in the risen Jesus informs every area of our lives. There is a sense in which Easter is not all that special for Christians, every day is Resurrection Sunday. And I will be as counter cultural as I can. No Easter brunches at a restaurant, no baskets or eggs, and inflatable easter bunnies will be shot on sight, and I will neither buy nor give easter candy. I will go to church to worship and I will fellowship over a meal with other brothers and sisters to share our common faith in the Risen Lord Jesus. Amen.