Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Bonnets and Reindeer

It’s time for my most favorite religious holiday—Easter. One of the reasons that it is my favorite is because of all the things that do NOT happen at Easter. I mean we won’t be bombarded by songs on the radio or TV about the Easter Bunny coming to town. There won’t be any cheap decorations strung all over people’s houses and lawns. While the Easter Bunny might make an appearance at your local mall, most parents don’t feel as obligated to him as to that other fellow dressed in the red suit. And while we will be seeing all of the latest spring fashions on display at stores around us, there is no urgent need to run out and buy presents for everyone on our lists.

Maybe the reason I like Easter so much is because it’s not Christmas. I know, I know, Easter is almost the opposite of Christmas in terms of how we celebrate it. Yeah, Easter is certainly not Christmas, and I, for one, like it that way!

One of the reasons I like Easter is because of what does happen, and that has nothing to do with what mankind does. I like the fact that instead of us decorating trees at Easter, God does it. Look at the redbud, the dogwood, and the ornamental pears. We don’t put lights in our yard at Easter, but God puts tulips and daffodils and forsythia!

Perhaps Easter is the greatest reminder that resurrection and renewal is done by God—not by man. We don’t resurrect ourselves from death. God does it for us. Just as He birthed us, He will rebirth us. Easter is not about what we do—what I decorate, what I give. It’s all about what God does.

Yes, there is a whole different spirit that surrounds the days leading up to Easter. It is a spirit that is very different from the other religious holidays that we excitedly celebrate.

The spirit that encircles Easter is about discovery. The early morning arrival at the tomb by the women who loved Jesus is reflected in our day by the early morning awakening of children who look for their Easter baskets. The surprise of the open door and the empty tomb is echoed again in the joyous surprise of children at Easter egg hunts across the land. The coming together of the disciples and the women with the Risen Savior is shown once again as families gather together once again to share a meal and the love of this special holiday.

I particularly enjoy Easter because this holiday is all about a spirit of hope--hope that can conquer the darkness of despair. It is the spirit of love that embraces and welcomes everyone, no matter what your educational or financial background, into God’s realm. Easter represents the spirit of life that has conquered death through the power of our creator God. It also encompasses the spirit of worship—the impulse of our hearts to sing out in gratitude to God. All this is reflected in how we feel and what we do on this wonderful holiday.

But ultimately, the spirit of Easter is about the risen Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came in order to turn life upside down and make it a doorway to eternal life. If Easter isn’t about that, then it is about nothing at all. If Christ is not risen, then in the words of the Apostle Paul, “We are the most to be pitied among people.” Why? Because without Easter, we are left with only good feelings and no substance; we are left with empty hopes and no real promise; we are left to ourselves in the face of death, and that my dear friends, is true loneliness.

During this season of springtime, we will rejoice as we celebrate Easter! We will be thankful for giggling children, the laughter of families and the opportunity to worship our risen Savior. We will celebrate Easter because Jesus Christ is risen and He is alive today! That is what makes Easter different, and frankly, that’s why I like it.

Celebrating the newness of God everyday,