It comes in many forms. A number of customs have shaped it, but it’s true meaning has been largely lost among the chicks and eggs we have come to expect. I’m talking about Easter, of course. The hard working bakers are busy ensuring the counter is jam packed full of hot cross buns. The fisherman are ensuring the punt is squirming with seafood ready for another year of record sales. The supermarket staff perfectly line up merchandise in an aisle devoted to hundreds of eggs. However, this time to take it easy, rejoice in chocolate and spend time with family has more than the superficial, commercial meaning which society at large has given it.
So many of us are missing a spiritual link to Easter. Our Easter narrative is sometimes devoid of even a mention of Jesus on a cross. What do the people telling me, “have a happy Easter” mean? Do Those we rub shoulders with in our every day lives have a good sense of this exciting holiday that means so much to us Christians? It makes me ponder whether our society has any connection to the festival other than appreciation of a long weekend, a BBQ and, of course, eggs. As a support worker for some of those vulnerable in our community, it’s interesting to get a glimpse into their stories about the Easter bunny and of course the upcoming zombie apocalypse where Batman saves the day. They seem to know more about the Easter bunny and bilby than I thought possible. They know all the great hiding spots for their egg hunt and can’t wait to make craft baskets stuffed with fake grass, little yellow chicks and of course filled to the brim with Angry Birds popping candy eggs!
Their joy and enthusiasm is fantastic to witness, but it does make it obvious that in some ways the commercialisation and Easter bunny have stolen the thunder of the true meaning.
The concept of Easter is so simple! Easter is a time when we remember what Jesus’ sacrifice means for humanity. It’s something I couldn’t consider doing, but I’m glad Jesus did. “The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them.”, John 15:13, CEV. Life is such a precious thing, and despite the terror we see more frequently in the news, we have the opportunity to live without fear, because the greatest act of love ever on earth happened at this time, Easter. In John 1:29 “The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about, ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’” (John 1:29-30, MSG.) Instead of being separated from God through our imperfections and rebellion, we have a new, everlasting covenant where Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, laid down his life to pay for our sins. When He rose from the dead three days later, Jesus gave victory over eternal separation from God death to all who believe in Him. In a nutshell, the new covenant enables us an everlasting life spent with God through our faith in all that Jesus has done.
Easter is a burst of new life! The great thing about the humble Easter egg is that it symbolises the empty tomb, a bird hatches to life from it and Jesus rose from the grave so that those who believe in Him will have life for-everlasting. Church is still a place many flock to over the Easter period. As active believers, we can connect to new people and inspire them to consider a journey with the living Jesus, showing them the love we know, and who it’s from. We all desire to be loved. The Beatles summed it up pretty well – “Love is all you need.” A baby can’t survive without love, their emotional and neurological pathways require love to function. Love keeps us adults healthy too. We’ve heard it plenty of times; love is kind, love is patient, never jealous boastful or proud. Love is always supportive, loyal and trusting. Love never fails! (See 1 Cor 13:4-8) Easter is about love, ultimate love for humanity when there was no other way. The only, hard and painful way was walked for us by Jesus, with the utmost highest supernatural love possible.
By Rob Wise