That may seem a strange question – surely it’s an event, rather than something that has a meaning? But if the “Christian” Christmas is struggling to keep its head above the secular, non-religious, festival, Easter seems be struggling more, even amongst Christians! Children at a Church-sponsored Primary school were asked about Easter, and many genuinely didn’t know what it was about!
Many readers will remember when Good Friday was almost like a Bank Holiday, when many shops and businesses closed. Many people ate no meat that day as a kind of fast in observing the special-ness of the day. Holy Saturday was a normal day, but then Easter Sunday was a real celebration, with many more than usual coming to church and an even greater sense of it being an extra-special day. Many people felt that if there was one day in the year when one attended their local church, Easter Sunday was that day.
It’s all different now, it seems. Good Friday is a normal day and people look on with some curiosity if some public act of witness takes place. Many Christians are at work, and so cannot take part in special services, even if they wanted to. As for Easter, many go away for a holiday and so Easter congregations don’t seem to any larger than normal – or even smaller.
OK – the world is different and we have to adapt, but have we lost our confidence about Easter and its meaning? Easter is an event – a historical occasion when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, certified dead, sealed in a tomb, yet raised to life by God. Like most orthodox Christians, I believe it was a literal resurrection, not an allegorical one – it really happened! But it also has meaning – the reason why Christians over the centuries have got excited.
- Easter means that Jesus really was (and is) the Christ, the Saviour, the Son of God;
- Easter means that we love and serve a living Jesus, not just the memory of a dead teacher;
- Easter means that death is defeated. We may fear the process of dying, but we need not fear death. Death is not oblivion or nothing-ness, but the door to another existence (not reincarnation, as some believe);
- Easter means that we do not turn into angels after death, but rather have a recognisable existence. The nature of Jesus’ resurrected body shows us what we will be like.
We need to have an Easter Faith – truly thrilled by the meaning of Easter. That is the only way we can have the confidence to meet life’s many challenges – convinced of the love and power of God revealed in Jesus, and convinced of that love and power present in us through the Spirit of Jesus. Take the opportunity to talk about your Easter faith with others – it might catch on!
Article by Rev Alan Price.