I would love for this to be a really cohesive, articulate post on my thoughts on Easter, the church calendar, hatching chicks, the Resurrection of Christ, and chocolate bunnies. Because my head may be visibly bulging as these thoughts bounce around in there, it will unfortunately fall quite short of that. I can't get a firm enough hold on any of my thoughts long enough to know what category to put them in. I'm hoping that writing some of this down will help me know...ummm...me, I guess? I want to dwell richly on all that Christ came near to accomplish. I want to enjoy fun traditions with my children, too. And Lord knows I want any excuse to buy matching seersucker outfits for the little guys. But I don't feel right about doing any of this.
"Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again." This is our assurance as believers. This is huge. If any part of that confession were not true, then the whole thing would be worthless. But it is true. And it is glorious! And it is a precious doctrine that we should immerse ourselves in because within it lies immeasurable comfort and hope and security and joy. So if "celebrating Easter" means doing just that, then I'm in.
But in our culture, "celebrating Easter" may include, but is definitely not limited to, those things. There are countless other symbols and ideas that accompany Easter that have nothing to do with the life and death of Jesus. (Not that clever marketers haven't done their level best to change that--Resurrection eggs anyone? Kill me now.) Easter means we get to do LOTS of things...wear pretty new dresses and get candy in our baskets AND meditate on Christ's substitutionary death on the cross and his subsequent victory over death, hell and the grave. Whew! Now that's a lot for one Sunday afternoon.
If it was purely a time where we donned our pastels, hunted for some eggs that a large rabbit hid, and made ourselves sick on Peeps in honor of the coming of Spring or our taxes being filed or some other agreed upon happy occasion, then I'm good. Toss me the ears from your chocolate bunny. But we try to do both. Well, not really try--we do both. We do all of these things that have nothing to do with what we claim to be celebrating and this is why I struggle. Because it creates anomalies like Resurrection eggs. We want to take part in the cultural celebrations but we also want to honor Christ. So we have this weird bastard child of a holiday that combines crosses and Cadbury creme eggs. Shouldn't we pick a focus?
This is all magnified even more to me now that I am a parent. Kris and I are constantly explaining new concepts to these little people who live in our house and that have very limited prior knowledge, vocabulary skills, and attention spans. Weekends like this present particular challenges because there are so many ideas floating around. My inclination is to let it all pass by. Not discuss the resurrection this Sunday nor the cultural traditions that take place. Because one clearly has nothing to do with the other but they are happening together prompting our young pupils to connect the two.
They know God made them. They know this one God exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They know that God the Son became man and came to this earth. We have told them about Jesus dying in our place--receiving God's wrath on our behalf. We have told them He did not stay dead, but was made alive again. We aren't expecting perfect comprehension and internalization at this point. We are discipling, which is a life-long process. But on a weekend where the church turns its particular attention to this aspect of theology, I find all the other crap on sale at Target right now incredibly confusing for them and irritating for me.
It's Easter weekend, so says the church calendar. I guess the thing about the Church calendar is that it is a tool. And tools can be useful for some jobs, but not for others. According to the church calendar, this weekend we are to think on the crucifixion of Christ (Good Friday) and the resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday.) But I find it more helpful, in light of where we are at this point in our culture and history, to think of each Sunday, when believers gather, to celebrate Christ's tremendous work on behalf of his Church.
So where am at right now? Well, we're going to gather with other believers tonight and spend time thinking about and praising God for the cross and all that that entails. But I'm not going because it's Good Friday. I'm going because I want to be with other believers whom I love dearly and I want to worship with them and I want to corporately confess to God our gratitude and praise. I would want to do this any Friday night.
On Saturday, we are getting together with our family. We'll share a meal. There will probably not be a lot of discussion of the crucifixion or the resurrection or what went on the day in between (wouldn't that be fun to talk about over deviled eggs?) So I'm not sure what our point in gathering is exactly other than we love them and like spending time with them. I would want to do this any Saturday afternoon.
But then there's the egg thing. Nothing sinful at all about searching for plastic eggs (although I refuse to tell them a magical bunny hides them. Despite all my uncertainty and angst about many things, I feel I can safely declare that LYING to your kids should be avoided.) I guess I can look at it as this is the game we're playing this time. Sometimes we get a bouncy house. Sometimes we play at the park. This Saturday, the game de jour is egg-hunting. Ok. I guess there's no need to have a theological sit-down over that anymore than I would if they were about to play kickball with their cousins.
Then Sunday morning, we are going to my parent's church. We don't normally do this so I guess I will have to concede that we are doing this because it's Easter. But I love the believers at Reformed Presbyterian Church and would be beyond thrilled to gather with them any Sunday of the year. We'll sing, pray, confess, and hear God's word. I'll hug some necks (one of my very favorite Southern expressions) and introduce Simeon to them. I would want to do this any Sunday morning.
We are gathering Sunday--this Sunday, next Sunday, every Sunday--because Jesus did not stay dead. So I could think about it more this week. Or I could think about it a lot next week. Or I could think about it some every week. It's the air we breathe. I am dependent on it regardless.
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. This much, I am sure of.
(I welcome your feedback, questions, and criticisms as I continue to work through all of this.)