It probably makes you smile, too, since it’s the reason so many people had a long weekend with Friday off.
But I have another reason. Whereas Christmas — as a religious holiday — was long ago bought, packaged and cleverly marketed by the Retail Council of Canada, Easter still carries the whiff of something spiritual that our culture can’t quite remove.
All the bunnies and painted eggs in the world don’t change the fact Good Friday isn’t called that just because a majority of us get the day off. It, and the weekend that follows, stands like a sentinel of something important and mysterious.
For people of faith, Easter is the dramatic climax of how God reached out to a broken world. It marks the time when Jesus Christ, considered by Christians (and many others) to be God’s son, is transformed through death and resurrection. Around the world, the story is sung in ancient hymns and new pop songs, explored in sermons and re-enacted in plays.
The Bible paints Jesus’ death on a Roman Empire cross as a sacrifice to make up for all the past, present, and future wrongs committed by anyone who believes in him. Wrongs that imperfect people like me simply can’t make up for on our own.
For pastor Warren McDougall, who I chatted with about Easter, that amazing act can be seen as a metaphor for giving ourselves away — to our neighbor, community, or world. To set aside our egos and selfishness for a greater good. That is what serious Christians believe Jesus did on Good Friday.
“The instinct is to preserve yourself and, yet, the counter instinct is generosity, with your life and soul,” said Ken Davis, another pastor I spoke to about Easter.
“Jesus said if you want to be great, serve. And the people we consider truly great are those who truly serve.”
The resurrection takes us from the enormity of service-through-sacrifice to the joy of renewal.
“It’s about good overcoming evil, life overcoming death and that transformation is possible, even from negative things,” McDougall told me.
For Mark Giancola, a third pastor I chatted with (these folks are almost always great conversationalists), the entire weekend can be seen through the lens of “hope for a new relationship with God and a new future.
“So if someone’s searching beyond eggs and bunnies, Easter offers that. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been in life, this offers a new start.”
Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.