Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter: More Than a Holiday

“…and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” -2Cor. 5:15 Easter. This season stirs up so many emotions. Or, it doesn’t stir up much at all. Our society is so desensitized to holidays that they come and go without much fanfare. But Easter is different. It’s more than a Holiday- it’s the absolute, once-and-for-all proof that Jesus lives. It seems that every day is a holiday to somebody. Every greeting card marketing firm has made it their goal to produce more and more holidays thus increasing the need for their product. Let’s take this next week, for instance. You may not have known that April 18th is “High Five” day, April 19th is “Garlic” day, April 21st is “Bulldogs are beautiful” day, April 22nd is “Jelly Bean” Day, April 23rd is “Talk like Shakespeare” day, April 24th is “Pigs in a Blanket” day, and to finish off the week, April 25th is (my favorite) “Hairball Awareness” day. It seems that anyone that has enough money and influence can create a holiday. So, how did Easter become a holiday? Certainly, as the liturgical early church grew in power, tradition set the stage for Easter. Even the alternating timing of Easter each year reflects its importance. "Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox.” Hum. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what that means. But apparently the early church fathers wished to keep the observance of Easter in correlation to the Jewish Passover. Because the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened after the Passover, they wanted Easter to always be celebrated subsequent to the Passover. And, since the Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, each feast day is movable, with dates shifting from year to year. But much like Christmas itself, the actual date is really not that important. What’s important is that it happened. Easter itself was designed by none other than God Himself. By grace, God the Father sent His Son to be born. By grace He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as a substitute for our sin. And then, by grace, He allowed Jesus to rise and live again to prove that he had defeated death. Easter isn’t just a holiday. It is a statement shouted out from God Himself that He is alive and well and still rules all creation. And it’s a reminder that in all His majesty, He desires a personal relationship with His most precious creation, you and me. So have a wonderful Easter celebration. Enjoy the Easter egg hunts and the chocolate bunnies, but don’t forget the real meaning of Easter. As you gather with your family and celebrate the holiday, be reminded of the meaning of “holiday” itself. It means “holy day” or “days set aside to be holy.” May we let this Easter be “set aside” as a time to thank God for His greatest gift of all…a risen Savior who is alive and well and desiring a relationship with us all today. What a beautiful and special day for us all to be more aware of His presence… …and less aware of hairballs. by Eric Joseph Staples ©

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