At this time of year, I am reminded of the great Easter egg hunts in the 1st century. James, John, Peter, and the others gathered their dyes, colored their eggs, and waited for a bunny to magically produce chocolate in them. Or…no, not at all, uh uh. “Easter,” as it is practiced today by so many, was never commanded by God, never practiced by the Apostles, and wasn’t considered by the 1st century church. So why is it one of the biggest events of the year? Let’s consider.
The word Easter has its roots in the Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre, from Proto-Germanic Austron, a goddess of fertility and spring. You say, “what does that have to do with Jesus?” Well, nothing. But the Passover, and subsequent death, burial, and resurrection, occurred in the spring. And so, this word that deals with sunrise (especially sunrise and the celebration of the spring equinox), from austra, “to shine” (dawn) became indicative of Jesus’ empty tomb on Sunday morning.
Once the idea of Easter was introduced, and Christians began practicing an annual remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, confusion ensued about what day it should be celebrated. And by the year 325AD, when the Council of Nicaea met, there was enough confusion that the council felt the need to decree that the annual day should be observed on Sunday (that is the day He arose after all). But they did not select a specific Sunday; that would not be decided until much later. To be clear, this day was not confused with the weekly gathering, a clear-cut command and example we find in the New Testament to gather in His name. Christians were not 1x/year Christians.
Also, please understand; none of this implies in any way that the facts surrounding Jesus, or the Biblical accounts, have in any way been tampered with or perverted. All it proves is that well-meaning individuals, who wanted to show the importance of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, took it upon themselves to celebrate this day. And therein lies the problem. Is Easter a secular holiday or a sacred one?
Notice, we already had a sacred day, given by God. When God wants a religious commemoration, He gives a specific day or He gives a clear example by His servants, in scripture. And even a quick glance at the Bible proves that this gathering took place every Sunday, a day we call “the Lord’s Day.” And so, ‘remember His death until He comes’ is the motto of Christian worship.
But if Easter is a secular holiday, then why all the talk of Jesus? In other words, just call it what it is – a celebration of the spring that has some “hand-me-down” leftovers from pagan ideas of ancient cultures. But that idea gives many Christians pause. Is that allowed? If we add in a little Jesus stuff, does that somehow cleanse it and make it better? Of course it doesn’t! If you are going to do it, just let it be what it is….a little fun.
But…own your Easter. Will it be sacred or secular? There is nothing wrong with playing games, painting eggs, and enjoying some chocolate. But if you want to worship God in the way He wants to be praised, go to church this Sunday and celebrate the Lord’s power over death…and then do it next Sunday…and the Sunday after that too…and, you get the idea. And have a Happy Lord’s Day, because, He lives!