Thursday, March 26, 2015

The power of the Resurrection vs. the Stupidity of Easter


I work as a teacher aide in a kindergarten. I was working in my small group, and they noticed that some new decorations had gone up. In the room I share there was a large chick coming out of an egg hanging on the door, and around the room were other eggs, in pastel colors and with some rabbits too. One girl asked about it and I said it's Easter decorations.

That got them talking about Easter and of course Easter egg hunts. They burbled and chatted.

Not my kids in kindergarten. This is an old picture I had taken
When's Easter anyway? asked a girl.
April 5th! answered a boy.
I asked "What is Easter about?"
They all explained "It's when you hide eggs with candy in them and hunt for them all around".
But what else is Easter for?
Again they explained that the "Easter Bunny comes and you find candy and eggs in a basket".
Anything else?
One girl explained, "When you go to church..."
Yes, yes? I eagerly leaned forward.
"...and you hunt for eggs and find candy."
But isn't it about Jesus?
The girl said, "Of course. He lays out the eggs."

The most beautifully decorated egg
pales in comparison to the beauty of Jesus
It's charming and sad all at once. Seeing the world through a child's eyes is always funny and they say unexpected things but they also have more truth in them than we like to think. To a kid life is all about getting to the next candy bonanza. To them, Easter is just another fairy tale that has fantastical, magical creatures like a rabbit that delivers candy and eggs in a basket filled with fake grass. Jesus doesn't figure into it at all or if He does it's messed up. We certainly give out mixed messages.

In his sermon, "The Power of the Resurrection", John MacArthur preached about the pagan mixture of Easter myths with the wonder and eternal glory of the Resurrection. He gave a good overview of the pagan origins of secular Easter celebrations and then he said,
While we laugh at that, we aren't laughing at the resurrection. We're laughing at the silliness of the world. But it really isn't funny, because it's another one of Satan's efforts to muddle the issue. If I just do one thing this morning, I'd like to separate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the stupidity of Easter.
I never liked Easter Egg hunts. This was because I never found any eggs. Even as a kid I didn't enjoy competitions, I was slow and ungainly, I didn't quite understand the point, and there were always lots of bullies intent in shoving you down to get that egg first. I left a grass-stained mess with bruises, hurt feelings and an empty basket.
In fact, the term Easter is not a Christian term at all. It is the name of the ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of light, Estre, and you might be interested to know that Easter celebrations predate Christianity. ~MacArthur
I did enjoy the wonderful Easter baskets my parents left by the fireplace. They always held crinkly grass, chocolate, and pretty little jelly beans and more. They were always both artful and bountiful.
The egg is both, in ancient times, a symbol of fertility and a symbol of the sun because, of course, of the color of the yolk; and so eggs were used in ancient fertility rites as symbols offered to the gods and goddesses, and they were used in worship of the sun as sort of small emblems of the sun. ~MacArthur
I enjoyed dyeing the eggs too, a lot. There was always a new dress to wear, with hat and gloves, for Easter. It was the one time per year (maybe two) we attended a church. The point of the day was the dinner afterwards.
I wondered this week how the rabbits got into the scene...since rabbits really have nothing to do with eggs...and so I checked out some resources, and I found that in ancient Egypt, the rabbit is the symbol of birth, for obvious reasons if you've ever had rabbits...and the Egyptians used the rabbit as a symbol of birth, and also other ancient people considered rabbits the symbol of the moon; and since rabbits in Egyptian society were symbols of fertility and birth, and they were connected with spring when things came alive. ~MacArthur
Me, all dolled up for Easter

Yes, Easter the holiday has a mix of pagan rituals and myths. I am not a huge fan of churches holding Easter Egg Hunts. I'm not a fan of trunk or treat at Halloween either. However, the outreach possibilities at both holiday times are tremendous. Ministering to our neighbors with love,service, tracts, bibles, conversation, is a wonderful way to bring the Gospel to the world. So usually I leave it to Christian liberty and don't stress about differing views.

GotQuestions discusses this in an essay about the Easter Bunny:
Should Christian parents allow their children to participate in traditional activities that refer to the Easter Bunny? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. There is nothing essentially evil about the Easter Bunny, unless it is used to promote the goddess of spring or fertility rites. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ and not the Easter Bunny, our children will understand that, like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny is merely a symbol. As with Christmas, Easter should be a time to reflect upon and celebrate the incarnation, the resurrection and the risen Christ.
Yes, it's all about Jesus. The crinkly grass, baskets, egg hunts, dyed eggs, ham dinners, and Easter outfits aside, the power of the resurrection is a wondrous event to contemplate. We take a special day to praise our Father for His power and His love in resurrecting His son.
So it is from the resurrection to the close of the New Testament, the theme is always that He rose from the dead. We must not be fooled by Satan's efforts to hide the resurrection in the foolishness of the world... ~MacArthur
I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17b-18)

So...hunt for eggs if you must. But look for Christ.


1 comment :

  1. There's actually an interesting series on AiG about Easter re: pagan trends
    https://answersingenesis.org/holidays/easter/is-the-name-easter-of-pagan-origin/

    I don't really have a horse in the race, but should note that JMac's sermon is from '79 and AiG's series is from 2011, and that JMac didn't then have as much access to information via the not-yet-invented Internet, and for that matter a dedicated research team of M.S.'s and PhD's across various disciplines to help his research.

    In the linked article, it makes mention of an influential book just a decade before JMac's sermon, that was making this Easter=pagan name claim.

    What clinches the case for me is that Wycliffe transliterated passover as "pask" (from the HEbrew 'pascha'), but Tyndale, writing later (and concurrent with Luther), used the words "oster" or "ester" in referring to Jesus Christ as our 'passover lamb'. It's very dubious that they'd make a connection between Christ and that word if it was strongly connected to paganism, rather than having some other meaning.

    This is just to provide greater information. You know I'm all for rejecting pagan traditions in contemporary holidays, but it's not necessary to prove that a celebration was always bad (Easter's origins) in order to judge that it is *presently* pagan -- any more than proving that Christmas's origins as a Roman Catholic holiday has any influence on its present admirable vs its pagan qualities. They are quite simply separate notions. In the case of Christmas, its origins in a false religious system don't mean that it can't be capitalized on to bring people's attentions to Christ (Spurgeon's view). In the case of Easter, the fact that it was not a pagan celebration at the time of Luther and Tyndale's translational work doesn't mean we shouldn't reject and divest from participation in / promotion of its stupid traditions that are now part of the cultural observation thereof.

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