Friday, April 06, 2012
What does Easter mean to you?
“There is a stage in a child’s life at which it cannot separate the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter. I have been told of a very small and very devout boy who was heard murmuring to himself on Easter morning a poem of his own composition which began ‘Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen.’ This seems to me, for his age, both admirable poetry and admirable piety. But of course the time will soon come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity. He will become able to distinguish the spiritual from the ritual and festal aspect of Easter; chocolate eggs will no longer seem sacramental. And once he has distinguished he must put one or the other first. If he puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They will have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.” – C. S. Lewis
This really hits home for me, as I think Christians often struggle with that tricky duality which holidays bring.
The spiritual side of us recognizes, and wants to celebrate, the part Jesus represents, while our human instincts want to get caught up in the fun aspects that most of society partakes in.
But, really, do we have to choose only one or the other? Is there a law saying Christians shouldn't decorate hard boiled eggs, hide Easter baskets, or snap a picture of their kids next to a giant, furry, rabbit? Those are all pretty harmless activities in and of themselves, right?
Just like too much of anything tends to be a bad thing, I think moderation and balance are key.
As C.S. Lewis says, we can have our egg and eat it too. (Ok, that was a bit paraphrased, but you get the picture.)
Without acknowledging the true reason for Easter, we take away the power of its actual meaning, leaving behind a shallow, rather silly, holiday. Yet when we allow the depth of the Resurrection its rightful first place in our heart, we can also enjoy the trivial parts for exactly what they are.
Because they truly aren't the reason we set aside this particular Sunday once every year.
No, that honor goes to a man who spent 30 some years of His life as a sinless human being. And then one agonizing day, suffering incomprehendable pain just because the rest of us aren't perfect.
I always thought the reason Jesus sweated tear drops of blood in the garden was because He knew the torture awaiting Him for hours on end. But I don't think that's true anymore.
Yes, He knew it would be physical agony, but probably most terrifying of all was having to go from no taste of sin, to bearing the offenses of every single person in the world on His shoulders. While nailed to a cross, no less.
Imagine that for a minute. It would be like taking your healthy newborn baby and heaping the diseases of everyone in existence into their perfect body which had previously known no sickness.
And God the Father had to watch that happen to His beloved child without intervening.
Had to watch pure evil, anguish, darkness, sorrow, separation, and eventually death, take hold of His Son.
Until three days later, that same death brought about life, eternity, rejoicing, forgiveness, restitution...
That one word is what I'll be celebrating this Sunday, what Easter means to me.
(And in the spirit of that, I'll probably have a chocolate egg to sweeten the day just a tad bit more.)