Ignoring Easter

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Each Easter, I feel like the evangelical church does somewhat of a disservice to the resurrection. That’s a hard statement to say. It’s even harder for me to believe. We add services and put together a well-polished worship experience in hopes that people will experience the resurrection in a new and artistic way.

13395709894_5e33eefdf8But what I mean by this is that much of our efforts rely solely on one weekend. We focus all of our attention for that day or that weekend. But Easter is much larger than a day or a weekend. If one day could completely change the fate of creation, isn’t it safe to assume that it deserves as much focus, if not more focus, than our other significant day, Christmas?

This year, I participated in Lent. In years past, I have tried to follow this fast. I have never successfully done so, however. My senior year in college, I decided to give up sugar for Lent. This was a crazy thing for me because I love sugar (as most of us do). I remember flying out to Las Vegas to do an interview for an internship at Central Christian Church. During one of my interviews, I met with Chris Trethewey, the Family Ministries Pastor, for breakfast. The place had chocolate-chip pancakes and I broke down and ordered them. Chris was asking some questions to get to know me and I remember mentioning that I had given up sugar for Lent. He looked at me confused and said, “But you just ordered chocolate-chip pancakes! There’s sugar in those!” I laughed it off and said, “It’s breakfast, so it doesn’t count.”


 Easter is much larger than a day or a weekend.


Pondering on that conversation this year has reminded me how lightly we treat Easter. Lent is a beautiful time of reflection, prayer, repentance, and self-denial. It is a time that we try and become like Christ. Christ fasted for 40 days in preparation of His ministry. We fast these 40 days in preparation for the day that changed the fate of creation.

This year, I gave up coffee for Lent. For those of you that know me, this was almost an impossible task. The 40-day fast from this has redirected my focus toward Christ and what the cross meant for us and what the resurrection means for us. On the cross, Christ died a criminal but in the grave, He arose a Savior.

N.T. Wright, in his book Surprised by Hope, writes about Easter like this:

Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrate as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?… We should be taking steps to celebrate Easter in creative ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind. This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins. We shouldn’t allow the secular world, with its schedules and habits and parareligious events, its cute Easter bunnies, to blow us off course. This is our greatest day. We should put the flags out.

This day should excite us. Because of Christ defeating death, He has defeated death for all of us. His resurrection is the most pivotal moment in history. And I fear that we just cram this pivotal moment into one day.


 On the cross, Christ died a criminal but in the grave, He arose a Savior.


During Advent season, we sing songs of Christ’s birth for weeks leading up to Christmas. We give extra gifts and monies to help people who cannot help themselves. We decorate our sanctuaries and throw festive parties. Families spend time together and invite those who have no families. This is beautiful. But shouldn’t Easter be just as beautiful? Shouldn’t Easter have the parties, the gifts, the monies, the decorations, the songs, and the family time?

Advent celebrates that our Savior has come. Easter celebrates that our Savior has won. Both are important. Both are worthy of celebrations beyond comparison.

holy-spiritSome argue that in reality, we celebrate Easter each Sunday. On paper, this is true. Because of what Christ did, we celebrate Easter each Sunday. However, do we direct our thoughts to that? Or do we just take it for granted that everyone in church knows and understands that? Is what Christ did only mentioned when we want to have a dramatic conclusion to a service? Perhaps each week we need to take the time to celebrate what Easter means for us.


 Advent celebrates that our Savior has come. Easter celebrates that our Savior has won.


Sometimes I feel like we ignore Easter. What I mean by that is that we ignore it until the day of. I have been guilty of this. Much of my life, I knew what Easter meant, but I looked forward to Christmas more…and not just because of the gifts. I have several fond memories associated with Christmas: traditions, parties, songs, feasts, etc.

This Easter, let us celebrate life. Life to the fullest. May there be parties and celebrations. May there be gifts and monies donated. May there be laughter and songs. May there be feasts and good conversations. Our Savior has won. And that is something that is more worthy than a weekend of celebration. That is something that is worthy of a lifetime of celebration.

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5 thoughts on “Ignoring Easter

  1. Caleb,

    An excellent point! The build-up to Christmas is often much larger than the build-up to Easter. Perhaps that would happen less if Christians fasted during Advent as well (which is pretty traditional). However, the Church Calendar can be even more helpful here, I think. Whereas Christmas gets 12 days (the 24/25 of December-11/12 of January), Easter gets every, essentially, every day between Easter and Pentecost because it gets every Sunday between Easter and Pentecost. Now, I certainly agree that the Easter celebrations we throw ought to be large, to remind the world why we celebrate. However, perhaps it might also help if we make Easter the focus from Easter to Pentecost. Just a thought, anyway.

    Yours,
    David

    P.S. I’m a friend of Peter Stevens, in case this comment seems a bit random.

    • I agree that we, in the evangelical world, should not be quick to discard the church calendar. It is beneficial for the body. Easter needs to be a longer celebration. For Easter is the reasoning behind everything we do. The Resurrection is our purpose and our faith. That should be celebrated each week. And perhaps, we need to begin making an effort each gathering to proclaim that.

      Celebration of Easter from Easter to Pentecost would be beneficial. I believe it would remind us of the reason for our celebration. Good thoughts!

  2. I just finished reading Surprised by Hope this week! N.T. is brilliant, and that book blew my mind repeatedly. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be pondering it and and it’s implications for a while yet..

    but in regards to your post: Could it be said that our slighting of Easter comes partly from western evangelicalism’s general tendency to emphasize the individualization of salvation and restrict it to humanity? It seems that if we had a broader understanding of salvation (not limited to humanity, not just about individual salvation/escaping the world, etc), perhaps we would be compelled to celebration of a larger scale? I’m thinking that we need to not just extend the celebration of Easter or add more bells and whistles, but we need to rediscover what it is that we’re celebrating.

    also, i didn’t grow up in a church that observed Lent, and I never really had a grasp on it’s purpose. So I liked your connection of Lent to Jesus’ fasting in the desert as preparation for ministry. If the resurrection, as Wright says, “completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom,” and the mission/ministry of the church is to embody and increase that kingdom, then it makes sense to not only extend the observance of Easter past the day in order to celebrate, but to also extend the observance of Easter the other direction – prior to the day – in order to prepare. And to prepare not just to celebrate Easter, but to live it.

    • I 100% agree with you! Our slighting of Easter does come from too much individualism. On the other hand, I believe, unfortunately, our treatment of Christmas comes from too much individualism as well.

      I also grew up in a church that never observed Lent. It was from hanging out with some people who observed Lent that I learned the beauty of it. It completely changes the way you view the Resurrection.

      Good thoughts!

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