Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

I have already broken the rule about talking about politics in polite company. Now I'm going to talk about religion as well. Either I'm some kind of uncouth individual bereft of social graces, or my readers aren't polite company. I'll let you decide.

Growing up, I thought Easter just meant chocolate and a weird bunny. I got a new dress to wear to church, and often a frilly hat as well. I had no idea why. They didn't ever talk about it in my childhood church either. I grew up in one of those churches that doesn't celebrate days like Easter or Christmas as anything other than the overly commercialized secular spend-too-much money days. In spite of the fact that the word holiday specifically means Holy Day. I didn't get it until I was older.

In elementary school, I had multiple fights with friends and classmates about Jesus's birth date. I knew that the Bible did not specify and had never commanded us to celebrate it anyway. For me, Christmas was nothing more than getting family together for too much food and presents.

Every year for Easter, we would go to my cousin's grandma's house (no blood relation, but we're Okies so we're all kin) for an Easter egg hunt. Great fun! We'd compare our hauls and gorge on candy. Never once mentioning a spiritual significance to the day. It was years before I really got that there was one.

For just over a year now, my husband and I have been attending a liturgical church. I'm still getting this Holy Week thing down. I sing in the choir. Last year, I sang for my very first ever Maundy Thursday. It was the first time I realized such a day existed.

Last Sunday prior was Palm Sunday and we brought in trumpets. Seriously awesome service. We processed in led by a pipe and drum band. From now on, I would like to be preceded by bag pipes everywhere I go. Please keep that in mind if you ever choose to invite me somewhere. It was the first Palm Sunday service I had ever been to in my life.

For Easter, we did an amazing cantata where we brought in an orchestra. Did I mention that the church I grew up in was anti-instruments? Yeah. I was 28 years old before I ever sang in a church choir. And I'm a well trained first soprano. I had a full tuition and fee waiver as a vocal music major in college. Didn't finish, but that's another story.

My point here is that this is really all very new to me. I'm fascinated by the whole Holy week events. I'm blown away by Christmas productions (I was the soloist for our Christmas cantata). I think I really finally get it that it doesn't really matter whether or not Jesus was born on December 25th. It's a day that early Christians got to celebrate it without being persecuted or killed because they lined it up with a pagan festival. Their courage made modern Christianity possible. That is worth celebrating, and what better way to celebrate it than to keep up the tradition?

Easter is even more worth celebrating. This day is commemorating Jesus's triumph over death. The day that He rose from the grave. This is the cornerstone of His promise to us as His followers.

After church, we got together with family. We had a lovely dinner and then sent the children outside to hunt the eggs. But this morning, before we even left for church, I asked my nine year old son what Easter was celebrating. He said, "The day Jesus rose from the dead." I didn't know that at his age. I agree with my childhood church's philosophy that we should be celebrating that every day, but I don't think having one special day set aside for it cheapens that idea in the least. I believe in reinforces it.

You know, the vast majority of us pay taxes with each and every paycheck that we receive. We don't actually think about it because it's the same each and every time we get paid. We only think about it when it comes time to file our taxes once a year. If communion is the same each and every week, by human nature we become just as complacent. By taking the time out to focus on what it means, we are forced to realign ourselves. I know, I just compared salvation and taxes, but it works. Except, of course, that on Easter we are reminded of how much we get for so little. When we file our taxes we are reminded of how little we get for so much.

I'm rambling and should probably end this entry. I'll leave it with this: Christ's death and resurrection extends grace and salvation to us all. We are all fallen creatures in a fallen world, but because of His sacrifice, we can be saved. This isn't limited to those belonging to any specific church or denomination. I believe that only God knows a man's heart and holds the keys to salvation. I believe that He is far bigger than any human boundaries and labels that we have tried to put on Him. Jesus told a thief condemned on an adjacent cross that he would be in Heaven with him that very day. This thief was not a "good" guy. He wasn't a member of any church. He didn't jump through any legalistic hoops. He didn't deserve salvation. At least, not any more than the the rest of us do.

1 comment:

CastoCreations said...

I think your post is excellent! I didn't even find out that Jesus wasn't *actually* born on the 25th until high school. LOL

Hope you had a beautiful and blessed day!