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I don’t even want to call it that anymore. Easter is a day for pretty dresses and springtime and baby animals. It’s egg hunts and egg dyeing and chocolate rabbits.
Resurrection Sunday? That’s a better name for it. If only we actually focused on the Resurrection. I think we are all so busy celebrating Easter that no one is quite ready to say “let’s hold off on these joyous celebrations and focus on this grief.”
But my soul grieves.
The death on the cross hurts my heart. My God, my Love, my Life, my Jesus! Tortured and maimed on my behalf. It tears my heart in two!
Oh the agony! Oh the Blessed Lamb of God! He could have called ten thousand angels…but he died alone.
“Happy Bunny Day!”
Last year, I was casually scrolling through Facebook a few days before Easter. A friend had shared a photo of a cake made in the shape of a lamb. One of her friends, a young woman I do not know, commented:
“I keep seeing the lamb on Pinterest. Is there a significance to the lamb? I don’t get it. LOL”
What does the lamb have to do with Easter!
My heart melted like wax within me.
Oh, Jesus! Our hearts are so far from you!
The Lamb? Don’t you know?
“Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
He is the precious, living, perfect, unmarred, Lamb of GOD slaughtered for our sins…for my sins.
My soul is in despair within me.
But there is hope.
This is why we rejoice!
The resurrection is his power and his promise. It fills my heart with gladness, but it does not take away my sadness. The pain of knowing my beloved Jesus was in agony–physically, emotionally, and spiritually–on the cross because of my sins will never go away.
“How great the pain of searing loss! The Father turns his face away.” (hear the song)
Why do I have such a hard time rejoicing in the resurrection? Because it followed the death, a death that was necessary for my salvation…because of my sins.
It was my sin that held him there.
And that’s what makes Easter hard.
I don’t feel guilty. He has erased all my guilt.
I do feel sadness. Deep sorrow. And love, a great and immeasurable love for my savior!
“Did e’er such love and sorrow meet?” (song)
A few years ago, I became aware of the strange dichotomy of Christmas. The glorious riches of heaven, the most valuable and precious gift ever given presented in the humblest, poorest, dirtiest situation. And here we find another aching contrast: the glory of life found only in the agony of death.
I long to celebrate and enjoy the beautiful colors and festivities of Easter, but when I think about the reason for the celebration, my heart aches with sadness.
Our culture celebrates holidays in the days and weeks leading up to the date. Once the holiday has passed, we pack away all signs that it ever was. I think this is part of what makes Easter such a difficult holiday. We don’t separate the remembrance of the death from the revelry of the resurrection. This confuses my spirit so I just shut it all out. Certainly that is not the best option.
What do we do?
Maybe it’s time for some new traditions?
At Christmas, our family focuses on traditions with meanings that draw us closer to Christ. We make merry and revel in spirit of the season, but each thing we do points back to Christ. I can’t do that with my Easter traditions, and as a mother especially, that bothers me. I want the holiday to have meaning, and I want that meaning to be HIM!
So maybe instead of chocolate filled eggs, we make Resurrection Rolls to remember the pure sinless body prepared with oils and spices and laid in the tomb, a tomb which after three days was empty!
Instead of baskets filled with plastic grass, we could prepare Easter gardens with real living plants to remind us of the night of wailing prayers and waiting in the garden of Gethsemane.
Instead of setting out baby chicks and bunnies, we could place a crown, a cross, and a plate of figs. (See Ann Voskamp’s suggested Easter Activities.)
Maybe it’s time to reclaim the old traditions?
“Do this in Remembrance of me.”
I’ve grown up in the church. We break the bread and drink of the fruit of the vine every Sunday, to remember Him and the Last Supper, but I have never participated in the meal Jesus was sharing with his followers, a Passover meal. The traditions of Passover are extremely symbolic. Each item carries a significance in the overall redemptive story. (A Christian’s Guide to Passover)
Honestly, I don’t know the answer. The way we observe the most significant event in history is certainly significant, but there is far too much tradition and theology, and history, for a simple woman like me to claim to have the answer.
I do know, that we as the Church, need to do something different. When churches spend millions of dollars on Easter candy (chocolate most likely harvested by slaves), hire helicopters to drop 20,000 plastic eggs on the church lawn, worry about who has the highest attendance numbers, and yet people wonder “what does the lamb have to do with Easter?”, then we have clearly lost the message.
For decades people have been pleading to put Christ back in Christmas. Isn’t it time we put him back in Easter too?
Listen, I’m not saying you have to give up your adorable cupcakes, or tie-dyed boiled eggs, or poufy dresses and tiny seersucker suits. Just be sure you remember WHY you do it. And if I seem a little sad at the church egg hunt, it’s because I can’t separate the sorrow and the joy. And I can’t quite reconcile them either.
His arrest gave me freedom.
His anguish gave me relief.
His brokenness put me together.
His death gave me life.
Oh, what love!
In what ways, do you create a meaningful Easter celebration? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or you can join the conversation on Facebook at the Gathering Joy page or our private group, the Joy Gathering.
Hymns and sunrises,