Everybody knows Christmas and Easter are the two big Christian holidays. And everybody knows, apparently, how you are supposed to celebrate the two big Christian holidays. Trees, lights, gifts and all-things-cinnamon for Christmas; and pastel colors and easter egg hunts for easter.
Except that: there’s nothing particularly Christian about all that paraphernalia. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll have heard me complain about the pressure to be Martha Stewart at Christmas and also pontificate on how I think we invented Christmas anyway – so it’s up to us to infuse it with faith-filled, faithful meaning.
But what to do with Easter? We did not invent Easter. The timing of Jesus’ birth was unknown, but the timing of his death was intentional (at the passover). His birth was celebrated across the heavens at the time, but his death was to be commemorated across the earth and into the future. Communion (or the Eucharist) is seriously joyful business, and especially so over Easter.
So what to do with the darned chocolate? and the easter egg hunts? and the pastel colors? (and keep in mind, the “all things new in spring” theme is all the more awkward if you, like me, grew up in the Southern Hemisphere where March/April brings with it the end of Autumn.)
Traditionally, this is the (Northern-hemisphere-centric) explanation I’ve heard:
Easter is remembered with easter eggs and candy: the egg being a symbol of nascent new life, about to begin. The Spring colors and flowers too remind us that God makes all things new. When Jesus rose from the dead, he gave us the hope of new life. So eat eggs and remember.
Now I don’t know about you, but I have a two-year-old and a five-year-old, and when they have their eyes fixed on that chocolate easter egg, they tune out after three seconds. And even if they weren’t fixated on the chocolate in front of them, I’m not sure they can follow the abstract hop:
Chocolate Eggs => Egg Eggs => New Life => We get new life => Because of Jesus
So this year I’m trying something a little more simple. Here it is:
In our family, we celebrate good times with food and treats. At Easter we get treats because we’re celebrating the best news ever: that Jesus rose from the dead and is the King for ever.
I think it’s simpler:
Chocolate = there must be a celebration.
What are we celebrating? = The good news that Jesus is the risen King.
It is absolutely true that Jesus being risen from the dead brings us new life (1 Peter 1:3) – the Scripture calls this our living hope. But I find it really hard to tie that into a chocolate easter egg in a meaningful way. For me to say: “We’re celebrating, because Jesus is King…” is both faithful to the Easter message, and also fast enough to say in that narrow sniff of time before my toddler paints his face with creme egg.
We will read the stories at bed time, and I may even get my act together sufficiently to do a mini resurrection garden:
There won’t be an easter bunny (here’s why), but there will be chocolate. Because Jesus died and rose again, and that’s the best think that’s ever happened….
… even better than our weddings and birthdays, which we celebrate with food,
…. so why not celebrate this with a little chocolate??