Sometimes priests and preachers remind us that we have to go through Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday. But who knew we needed to be reminded what happened on Easter Sunday?!
Seems it’s quickly turning into the big secular celebration Christmas largely has become for many people, including Christians preparing their feasts and decorating their homes with bunnies and colorful egg trees. Some scholars are saying we need to re-think Jesus.
Fewer than half of Americans mentioned Jesus’ death and resurrection when asked about the significance of Easter, according to a survey released last month by Christian researchers the Barna Group.
At the same time, the National Retail Federation reports we’ll spend more than $13 billion on the holiday for food, clothes, candy and greeting cards.
Although the holiday is meant to be the central celebration of the church, disassociating Easter from the biblical narrative of the resurrection or seeing it in symbolic terms makes Christianity “safer” for con-temporary churchgoers, some local Christian leaders say.
“Jesus is very challenging. To encounter him is existentially challenging. It can be scary and uncomfortable,” said Jeremy Wilkins, assistant professor of systematic theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. “There is a strong pressure in our culture to reinterpret (the resurrection) or explain it or not to deal with it as the mighty and miraculous thing that it was.”
Yes, encountering Christ is existentially challenging, which is why He came. The more uncomfortable it makes us, the more we’re probably converting from sinner to saint….or at least growing aware of what it means to be both.
The resurrection’s Easter competition comes not only from colorful bunnies and candies, but also the historical accounts of the story that appear in books, newspapers and cable TV programs each spring…
“The skeptical mind is always going to try to find a physical, a psychological, an other-than-spiritual reason for the truth of the resurrection,” said Gary Moore, spokesman for Second Baptist Church.
And modern culture is offering up plenty of alternatives, leading to what he calls a “contrarian” view of Christ.
Unitarian Universalists and more liberal congregations emphasize the inspirational side of the Easter story, as a story of new life and the power to rise above hate and injustice.
“Let’s don’t try to water this down. Let’s not try to make it just an idea,” said Moore in response. “Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t stand for something else, like a metaphor. Jesus’ resurrection only represents his body, not his philosophy.”
Or, more historically put…
Jesus’ resurrection was the first testimony of Christian faith; early Christians circulated stories about seeing him after his death, which were recorded in the New Testament, said April DeConick, a Rice University religion professor and historian.
“As Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, the resurrection of Jesus served as a concrete example that God is good on his promises, and so the faithful followers of Jesus could be assured of their own resurrection after their deaths ,” she said.
And that’s the Easter truth worthy of a feast.