At the risk of sounding like a springtime Ebenezer Scrooge, bah humbugging my way through dogwood blossoms and tulip gardens, let me ask, “What’s the problem with Easter?” It’s not that I am opposed to chocolate candy (who could be?!), or beautiful dresses, cute bunnies, and colorful eggs.
Perhaps you are thinking, “I know where you are going. You are concerned that the focus has shifted from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to the purchase of things.” And you would be partly correct. The celebration has been hallmarked. One of my grandsons asked me on Easter Sunday why some people get lots of presents on Easter, apparently reflecting on the difference in practice between his family and those of some of his friends. Commercial expectations have been raised. Focus has shifted.
Nor am I only concerned about those who go to church on Christmas and Easter. I am thankful that they attend at least that often, though I wish it were more frequent.
When the Apostle Paul summarized his message in brief form, short enough to write on a 3×5 card, he wrote: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He goes on in that passage to talk about how crucially important it is for us, who are sinners subject to death, to know that Christ has been raised. Without the resurrection, faith in Christ is pointless and we are without hope.
No wonder that the early church gathered repeatedly on the first day of the week to worship the risen Savior! Worship on the Lord’s Day is a weekly celebration, not only of the death of Jesus, but especially of his resurrection. The biggest problem I have with Easter is its tendency to make something that is crucial to our lives as those who trust in Christ less a weekly celebration and simply an annual one. That’s not often enough to celebrate!
Writing this a few days after Easter, I note that last Sunday I did preach on the risen Savior. We sang resurrection hymns. But the risen Christ needs to be central to our worship each Lord’s Day. I will be encouraged, not offended or surprised, if we keep greeting one another with the salutation used in the ancient church: “Rejoice! The Lord is risen,” and respond with “The Lord is risen indeed!”
John W. Mahaffy, Pastor
Trinity Presbyterian Church