Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Clarify Perspective, The Easter Bunny Needs To Hop Out Of Holy Week..

Ask most anyone what they think of at Eastertime, and you’ll probably get either the Easter bunny or an egg hunt as an answer, with maybe flowers or springtime following closely behind.

So sad.

At the risk of being curmudgeonly and/or party-pooperish, this should not be so.  I get that kids need to have fun at a holiday time and all that. 

But how does the most sacred and meaningful day in all of Christendom get reduced to a bewildered bunny and plastic eggs filled with candy? 

I don’t mean for this to be an attack on secularists, or even on people who love to enjoy life.  However, there is always a moment to pull back, look at the big picture, and say, “whoa – what is going on here?”

In a bit of irony, Easter – the word – is said to have evolved from pagan roots –- namely,  Eastre, the Teutonic goddess of Spring.  Further, the word Easter, as far as I can tell, is never associated biblically with any events of Holy Week. 

Yet somehow through the eons, likely because Spring, blooming flowers, Jewish Passover, Resurrection Sunday and people wanting to celebrate, are all interwoven, the bunny and the egg have emerged as the poster-agents of Easter.  Convoluted? Yes.  But it is a widely perceived reality.

Lest you think I am advocating for commissioning Elmer Fudd to extinguish all “wascally wabbits” or to eliminate eggs as a symbolic source of new life, let me instead suggest an alternative.

Check out and broadcast the real meaning and origin of Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter.  I have found one of the best discussions of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be in N.T. Wright’s book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church.

Surprised by Hope is one of the most “aha!” books I’ve ever read.  It has given me a fresh, enlightening perspective on how the meaning of the Resurrection can affect the core of our faith journey.  Beginning with how the ancients used and understood the term.

Perhaps Wright’s signature theme is to point out that none of the Gospels identify “future Christian hope” as part of the Resurrection story, and, further, they do not say that because of Christ’s resurrection, there is life after death.  (Read that last sentence again.)

Rather, according to Wright, the writers say, “Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord: Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun – and we, his followers, have a job to do!”

Wright then goes on to explain the early Christian idea that God is now at work (and we are a part of it) doing for the whole cosmos what he has done for Jesus in the Resurrection – and what that means for us in our present life and in our future.
Surprised by Hope is a thoughtful and challenging must read, in my opinion, especially during Holy Week.  At the least, it's a wind in the back on the pathway from a pagan understanding of Easter to a cosmos-like grasp of Resurrection Day.

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