Is there a resurrection in your future? In your near future?
Often concerned Christians complain about the pagan background of Easter, and such practices as Easter eggs, bunny rabbits, and all the signs of spring. Pagan religions in many countries have celebrated spring and the new life that it represents. Fall and spring festivals celebrate the cycle of life as we know it. I believe there is something very appropriate in placing the Christian celebration of the resurrection at the time of the spring, and I am even pretty happy with some of the pagan connections.
Christian easter both reaffirms and transforms the idea generally behind spring festivals. (I’m not trying to make a connection with any particular festival here; I’m just looking at spring festivals in general.) We celebrate on the one hand that God does renew things on a regular basis. There may be valleys in our lives, but there are also mountaintops, and if we’re traveling with God, we know that the mountaintops will follow the valleys without fail. For every trial there’s a potential victory. We live in a world of death, but at the same time a world of life.
As Christians we often look down on those pagan religions that emphasize fertility. Stories of sexual orgies and perversions help foster that attitude. But the elements of excess and perversion are just that–a perversion of something that God made and that God said was good. Human sexuality and reproduction are to be celebrated. Why? Because they provide us with the best example of God’s life giving power placed in our own hands. The passion of a husband for his wife, or a wife for her husband and the response of one to the other provide the greatest metaphor of God’s passion for his people and our response to him. It is not that sex is dirty without the metaphor; it is God’s gift of life and of passion. Try reading Song of Solomon as a love story. Don’t worry about any spirituality; just read it as passionate poetry and enjoy it. It is that passion that represents God’s desire to commune with you, to be intimate with you, and to renew your life.
At the same time the resurrection transforms the whole idea of a spring festival. In many ancient religions there was an endless cycle of celebrations or commemorations of the changing of the seasons with no expectation that humanity was going anywhere. The resurrection transforms that. We are not in an endless cycle; God has a plan! We’re going somewhere. That’s the central message of Easter. We cannot have Easter without first going through Good Friday. The trial came first. But the cross would be a symbol of death if it was not followed by Easter. The resurrection breaks the cycle and brings life.
So enjoy the cute fluffy bunnies, and eat the chocolate easter eggs. There’s a resurrection in your future!