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Easter is Hard

March 18, 2016

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Celebrating the death and resurrection amidst pastel eggs and bunnies gets harder for me every year. Is anyone else this way?

Easter?

I don’t even want to call it that anymore.  Easter is a day for pretty dresses and springtime and baby animals.  It’s egg hunts and egg dyeing and chocolate rabbits.

Resurrection Sunday?  That’s a better name for it.  If only we actually focused on the Resurrection.  I think we are all so busy celebrating Easter that no one is quite ready to say “let’s hold off on these joyous celebrations and focus on this grief.”

But my soul grieves.

The death on the cross hurts my heart.  My God, my Love, my Life, my Jesus! Tortured and maimed on my behalf.  It tears my heart in two!

Oh the agony!  Oh the Blessed Lamb of God!  He could have called ten thousand angels…but he died alone.

“Happy Bunny Day!”

Last year, I was casually scrolling through Facebook a few days before Easter.  A friend had shared a photo of a cake made in the shape of a lamb.  One of her friends, a young woman I do not know, commented:

“I keep seeing the lamb on Pinterest.  Is there a significance to the lamb? I don’t get it. LOL”

What does the lamb have to do with Easter!

My heart melted like wax within me.

Oh, Jesus! Our hearts are so far from you!

The Lamb?  Don’t you know?

“Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

He is the precious, living, perfect, unmarred, Lamb of GOD slaughtered for our sins…for my sins.

My soul is in despair within me.

But there is hope.

The Resurrection.

The LIFE!

This is why we rejoice!

The resurrection is his power and his promise.  It fills my heart with gladness, but it does not take away my sadness.  The pain of knowing my beloved Jesus was in agony–physically, emotionally, and spiritually–on the cross because of my sins will never go away.

“How great the pain of searing loss!  The Father turns his face away.” (hear the song)

Why do I have such a hard time rejoicing in the resurrection?  Because it followed the death, a death that was necessary for my salvation…because of my sins.

It was my sin that held him there.

And that’s what makes Easter hard.

I don’t feel guilty.  He has erased all my guilt.

I do feel sadness.  Deep sorrow.  And love, a great and immeasurable love for my savior!

“Did e’er such love and sorrow meet?” (song)

A few years ago, I became aware of the strange dichotomy of Christmas.  The glorious riches of heaven, the most valuable and precious gift ever given presented in the humblest, poorest, dirtiest situation.  And here we find another aching contrast: the glory of life found only in the agony of death.

I long to celebrate and enjoy the beautiful colors and festivities of Easter, but when I think about the reason for the celebration, my heart aches with sadness.

Our culture celebrates holidays in the days and weeks leading up to the date.  Once the holiday has passed, we pack away all signs that it ever was.  I think this is part of what makes Easter such a difficult holiday.  We don’t separate the remembrance of the death from the revelry of the resurrection.  This confuses my spirit so I just shut it all out. Certainly that is not the best option.

What do we do?

Maybe it’s time for some new traditions?

At Christmas, our family focuses on traditions with meanings that draw us closer to Christ.  We make merry and revel in spirit of the season, but each thing we do points back to Christ.  I can’t do that with my Easter traditions, and as a mother especially, that bothers me.  I want the holiday to have meaning, and I want that meaning to be HIM!

So maybe instead of chocolate filled eggs, we make Resurrection Rolls to remember the pure sinless body prepared with oils and spices and laid in the tomb, a tomb which after three days was empty!

Instead of baskets filled with plastic grass, we could prepare Easter gardens with real living plants to remind us of the night of  wailing prayers and waiting in the garden of Gethsemane.

Instead of setting out baby chicks and bunnies, we could place a crown, a cross, and a plate of figs. (See Ann Voskamp’s suggested Easter Activities.) 

Maybe it’s time to reclaim the old traditions?

“Do this in Remembrance of me.”

I’ve grown up in the church.  We break the bread and drink of the fruit of the vine every Sunday, to remember Him and the Last Supper, but I have never participated in the meal Jesus was sharing with his followers, a Passover meal.  The traditions of Passover are extremely symbolic.  Each item carries a significance in the overall redemptive story.  (A Christian’s Guide to Passover)

Honestly, I don’t know the answer.  The way we observe the most significant event in history is certainly significant, but there is far too much tradition and theology, and history, for a simple woman like me to claim to have the answer.

I do know, that we as the Church, need to do something different.  When churches spend millions of dollars on Easter candy (chocolate most likely harvested by slaves), hire helicopters to drop 20,000 plastic eggs on the church lawn, worry about who has the highest attendance numbers, and yet people wonder “what does the lamb have to do with Easter?”, then we have clearly lost the message.

For decades people have been pleading to put Christ back in Christmas.  Isn’t it time we put him back in Easter too?

Listen, I’m not saying you have to give up your adorable cupcakes, or tie-dyed boiled eggs, or poufy dresses and tiny seersucker suits.  Just be sure you remember WHY you do it.  And if I seem a little sad at the church egg hunt, it’s because I can’t separate the sorrow and the joy.  And I can’t quite reconcile them either.  

His arrest gave me freedom.

His anguish gave me relief.

His brokenness put me together.

His death gave me life.

Oh, what love!

 

In what ways, do you create a meaningful Easter celebration?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments or you can join the conversation on Facebook at the Gathering Joy page or our private group, the Joy Gathering.

Hymns and sunrises,
Christina

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Wow I’m sharing this! This is amazing!

  2. Sarah Powley says:

    I think if you don’t lay aside Good Friday to look at the cross and the death of Jesus, and if you don’t spend Easter Saturday ‘sitting with’ the words of 1 Corinthians 15 – If Christ be not raised, the our faith is for nothing – then Easter Sunday is totally, utterly meaningless. This is the tradition of the church over in the UK at least – and I try to reinforce it at home, reading the story each Holy week day by day with food that commemorates – lamb for passover, etc. I love Easter – unlike Christmas it allows real depth of thought and feeling spread over days, ending with the knowledge that death is defeated. I hope it’s like that this year for you too.

    • Christina says:

      Yes! And that’s so hard to do when we schedule our Easter celebrations on the days leading up to it. The celebration and the remembrance get muddied together. Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Misty Fuentes says:

    This is one of the reasons I love that our church doesn’t do an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. The Sunday before, Palm Sunday, when there was rejoicing throughout the city at Jesus’ arrival, we all go out to our preacher’s house and have a church-wide potluck meal (‘break bread’) and do a fun egg hunt for the kids and another one for the adults. It builds community within our church and allows for the following Sunday to be more reverent and thoughtful.

    • Christina says:

      That’s a great way to look at it, Misty! Our church also had the egg hunt on the Sunday before. I LOVE that time with my church family. It is great fellowship!

  4. As a blogger, I recently noticed someone asking for Easter posts that they wanted to put into a roundup. They said “Nothing religious.”

    I am truly baffled at why anyone would celebrate Easter at all if it isn’t religious for them?! It is the entire reason why we are Christians!

    I don’t mind my children celebrating with egg hunts and candy and special breakfasts, because it is meant to be the happiest day of our year. We should celebrate Christ’s defeat of death. But it’s very important to me that the kids know exactly what and why we are celebrating. And I definitely agree that the focus of that gets lost very easily.

    Thought provoking post!

    • Christina says:

      Oh, that breaks my heart, Jamie. And yes, that’s exactly what I mean. I love celebrating spring, and I have no problem with all the fun things that go along with the secular “Easter” stuff, but it does feel like it overshadows the real message. I want both…just not at the same time.

  5. Chelsea says:

    I completely understand where you’re coming from Christina! I also appreciate you being so honest about your struggle as well as your pure desire to honor YHWH. I know that he will bless that desire in you! I hope that you will allow me to share a bit of my own experience with you. Years ago, I was struggling the same way with Christmas. First it started with me questioning why, if Christmas was all about Jesus’ birth it seemed too be becoming more and more about santa and the elves. Also, the materialistic hype about it was sending me over the edge. That was around the time that my parents started attending a Hebraic movements group on Saturdays and stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter all together.

    At first, I have to admit that I didn’t understand it, but I was at a point in my life where I was quickly becoming disillusioned by some of our religious traditions and so I was trying to keep an open mind about it. I continued celebrating Christmas, but instead tried to keep it more God- centred until one day my mom shared this video (linked at the bottom) with me about the true origins of Christmas and Easter. This completely changed my mind about it and our family began the process of going back to celebrating God’s original feast days, such as Passover, eating kosher, and keeping Sabbath. I hope that you get a chance to watch this and pray that YHWH will open your eyes to these things as well. May you be blessed and I pray that you come to know the truth. Shalom!

    passion for truth ministries truth or tradition

    • Christina says:

      Thank you so much, Chelsea! It is something I have been interested in and want to learn more about with my husband.

  6. Chelsea says:

    Oh hey, sorry. The Link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8sKNOxyd8w actually. 🙂

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What do you need?

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