Easter Then and Now
As Easter approaches, I’m reminded of a snapshot from my childhood. In the photograph, my sister and mother and I are all wearing new dresses, hats, and gloves. My brother and father are attired in their best suits and wearing a tie. We’re all dressed up in our brand new Sunday finest, ready to go to church on Easter Sunday.
When I was growing up, my family was largely “Holiday Christians”. We always attended church on the big holidays – Christmas and Easter – but didn’t make it a point to attend every other Sunday of the year. I didn’t like going to church. I didn’t enjoy Sunday School because I didn’t know as much about the Bible as the other kids and I didn’t like being with the adults for the regular service because listening to the preacher made me sleepy.
So on Easter Sunday, I was more than anxious to get church done and over with so we could be on our way to Milwaukee. My grandma and grandpa and aunt lived there and it was a tradition to visit them on Easter. My aunt would fix up huge boxes of candy for each of us kids filled to the brim with all manner of sweet goodies from marshmallow peeps to jelly beans. The centerpiece was always an egg crafted from sugar that had an opening on one side to display a little scene with a bunny or a chick – all of it made from sugar. These weren’t really for eating; they were works of art. But that was okay with me; I hoarded my candy and there was enough in that box to last me almost until Halloween even if I didn’t eat the sugar egg.
Now that I’m a born again Christian, I have a different take on Easter. As Holy Week proceeds, I’m reminded again and again of the story of Jesus being welcomed in Jerusalem, then being convicted by the Romans and sentenced to die on the cross as a lowly criminal. The story always makes me cry as I imagine the extreme suffering of our Lord being scourged and spat upon and nailed to the cross–the suffering he endured to save ME.
But I also cry tears of joy because His resurrection three days later is the Good News of the Bible. It’s the core gospel of Christianity – that Jesus died for our sins. As Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is the truth we as Christians believe wholeheartedly.
Easter now has an entirely different meaning for me. It’s not about bunnies and chicks and candy and dyed eggs. It’s about the things that will endure long past those Hallmark holiday symbols of Easter – our heavenly Father’s love and grace, our new covenant with God that promises salvation, and eternal life in heaven. Easter is all about John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
And that is indeed something to celebrate! Let us be joyous as we celebrate Easter and remember God’s magnificent love.
– Candace Morehouse