Today is Easter Sunday. For most Americans, this will be a day filled with candy, bunnies, and a vague celebration of life. Or maybe a half-hearted attempt to give church a chance, because, hey, tradition. But Easter, or the day that has become our celebration of the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, is about so much more than that. Some insist that the origins of Easter are undoubtedly pagan, others insist the exact opposite. Unlike other holidays, which can usually be figured out one way or the other fairly easily, Easter's origins are very muddy and nothing can be said about whether it originated with pagan traditions or Christian ones with absolute certainty.
But Easter, for us followers of Christ, is, has been, and always will be (or at least should be) about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that's why I sort of cringe at the name Easter, because so many people don't understand what is actually significant about today. They either believe that it was originally a pagan thing or they completely ignore the fact that the reason Easter exists is because of Jesus Christ. And then Christians feed into the problem by throwing around vague statements like "I hope you're impacted by the power of Easter this Sunday" (I saw a tweet just like that this weekend) and it's just ridiculous to me. Now, I'm not saying that we should stop calling it Easter, or get offended when people don't call it Resurrection Sunday or something like that, because that in and of itself is ridiculous as well. We can't expect an entire secular culture to believe in something that it has no reason to. But we, as Christians, have a responsibility to our culture; whenever we talk about Easter, we need to talk about why it's important.
It's important because three days before he was raised from the dead, the God of the Universe died in payment for our disobedience. It's important because the cross that we should have been hung on was given to Jesus Christ. It's important because the most hopeless period of human history, the time when Jesus was dead, was succeeded by the most joyous of occasions: when Jesus lived. It's important because death was conquered and sanctified for the followers of Christ, anyone who believes and repents, and so we don't have to fear it anymore.
It's important because the lost need to know that God in the flesh came down to Earth, died in the most horrific physical and spiritual death that is possible, and then rose from the dead, proving that He was God and that death had no power over Him.
And so when you're tempted to say silly things like "I pray that people are impacted by the power of Easter" or even just statements that are lacking such as "have a great Easter", stop and check yourself. Easter is about Jesus. Let's talk about Jesus. The Gospel cannot be preached without us actually, you know, preaching.
That all being said, I hope you all have a joyous time celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of my favorite things about today so far has been the example the body of believers at my home church (Faith Community here in Janesville) set for the non-believers who came through our doors this morning. We showed them what it was like for the body of Christ to celebrate Easter. We showed them what it was like to bask in the joy and wonder that is worshiping our Lord together. And we showed them that we have something that the world cannot and does not understand: Communion with each other and God in a powerful, accountable, and holy way.
Happy Easter, everyone. Let's celebrate, not just life, but Jesus' life. And the life that He bought for us through His work on that day, more than 2,000 years ago.