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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Christ is Risen...Not the Easter Bunny

Sunday, large portions of the world celebrated Easter. Many people went to church, sporting new, brightly-colored clothing. There were Easter egg hunts and hearty Easter lunches. The funny pages in the newspaper were filled with Easter-related cartoons. Unfortunately, though, Christ hardly made an appearance this Easter. Even though Easter is officially over for another year, I think Christians should not stop talking about the Resurrection, despite the culture shift we are seeing today.

Some examples of this cultural shift:

  1. The April 14th, 2009 issue of Woman's Day magazine actually said, "Whether vibrantly colored, filled with jelly beans or made of chocolate, eggs are what Easter is all about" (Vol. 72, Issue 8; page 23, under the heading "Egg-Celent Sweets.").

  2. I read in the news that a very slim majority of people in the Netherlands, according to a recent study, actually know that Easter is a Christian holiday.

  3. At least half of the major cartoons in my newspaper, including strips like Dilbert and Shoe, made absolutely no mention of Easter at all on Easter Sunday, and instead chose to focus on the economy and similar issues. Is it that the cartoonists had no Easter-related ideas, or is it that the cartoonists didn't want to acknowledge the holiday for whatever reason?

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Some Background on the Holiday

Easter is the anniversary, calculated from the Jewish calendar, of the day Jesus rose from the grave. The Bible records that Jesus' crucifixion coincided with the Passover and the following Sabbath in the Jewish (lunar) month of Nisan. We can calculate from the day of the Passover, and the Sabbath that follows, which day the Resurrection took place.

Easter eggs and bunnies, on the other hand, have pagan, not Christian origins. The name, "Easter," is derived from the name of a Germanic fertility goddess (Ostara or Austron), who was worshiped around this time of year (the month of the spring equinox). I've also heard some people try to link Easter with the worship of Ishtar, a Babylonian fertility goddess associated with Venus, but I can't find any proof that Ishtar is actually connected, linguistically.

The early English author, Bede, records that some elements of the worship of Austron were adopted into the celebration of Easter. This is where we get the Easter bunny and decorated eggs, both symbols of fertility.


The day that Christ was raised from the dead does not have any special holiness inherent in it. Some people would disagree, but we don't worship days or places or things--we worship Jesus. Celebrating Easter is not going to make us more holy than worshiping God on any other day would. I'm just upset to see Jesus forgotten on Easter, because that tells me He is truly being forgotten everywhere else.

Jesus deserves more attention today, and every day. He needs to be in the center of our hearts. Christians don't need to make their Christianity reflect the culture; culture, instead, should be made to reflect the condition of the Christian's heart.

I think it's probably too late to make the Easter bunny go away--besides, it's infinitely more marketable than a Resurrected Lord and an empty tomb--but we shouldn't forget Jesus in the midst of the festivities. We shouldn't forget Him when the holiday is over, either. After all, Jesus rose from the grave once, for all time. He was the risen Lord on Saturday, and He is still the risen Lord of my life this week.


Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

I have often wondered why the "War on Christmas" is such hot topic for conservative radio and t.v. personalities when EASTER is the more important of the two Christian Holidays. Could it be that even the mainstream "Christian" community doesn't "get" the POWER of the CROSS and the FREEDOM of the EMPTY TOMB!?

HE is still the RISEN LORD here in my life and our house today, this week and always!

Rachel said...

Yes, I've never been able to figure that out, either. I've often suspected marketing and consumerism in that, as well, since we don't even know when Jesus was born. I've heard some scholars suggest that Jesus was born sometime in April or May, but I don't know about that.
I guess the important thing is that we remember what all of this is commemorating. The day is less important than what we are celebrating.

Anonymous said...

"Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?'
'They have taken my Lord away,' she said,'and I don't know where they have put him.' At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?'
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.'
Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!'"
John 20:11-16

And that's what Easter is all about, Charlie Brown. :)