*Pastor’s Note: Okay, hopefully you made it through Part One. Here’s the rest of the lesson. Be blessed with the history AND most definitely the reason for the day, and again, celebrate the holidays, every holiday prayerfully!
Some Christian fundamentalists reject nearly all the customs surrounding Easter, believing them to be irrevocably tainted with paganism and idolatry. Jehovah’s Witnesses (which is most assuredly a cult), do not celebrate Easter at all, believing it to be entirely a pagan invention. In addition, some Christians believe the holiday is named for the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, but there exist no etymological indications that would support such claims. In lands where this goddess was historically known, the holiday was never called by any name resembling hers.
Non-Religious Easter Traditions
As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting. Today it is commercially important, seeing wide sales of greeting cards and confectionery such as chocolate Easter eggs, marshmallow bunnies, Peeps, and jelly beans.
In the United States, the Easter holiday has been effectively secularized, so that many American families participate only in the attendant revelry, central to which is decorating Easter eggs on Saturday evening and hunting for them Sunday morning, by which time they have been mysteriously hidden all over the house and garden. According to the children’s stories, the eggs were hidden overnight and other treats delivered by the Easter Bunny in an Easter basket which children find waiting for them when they wake up. (The Easter Bunny’s motives for doing this are seldom clarified.)
However, these secular rituals often have origins in Christian symbolism; the eggs, for example, can be taken as signs of rebirth and resurrection. Some of Easter’s symbols can be traced back still further; some (such as the Easter bunny, originally a hare) seem to have their origins in earlier pagan rituals celebrating nature’s springtime rebirth; while others can be traced back to Jewish customs such as the lamb often eaten at Easter feasts, which echoes Passover’s paschal lamb. (Eggs can be related to both pre-Christian traditions).
In Norway, in addition to skiing in the mountains and painting eggs for decorating, it is tradition to solve murders at Easter. All the major television channels show crime and detective stories (such as Poirot), magazines print stories where the readers can try to figure out who did it, and many new books are published. Even the milk cartons change to have murder stories on their sides.
In the Czech Republic, a tradition of whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, males whip females with a special handmade whip called pomlázka. The pomlázka consists of eight, twelve or even twenty-four withies (willow rods) and is usually from half a meter to two meters long and decorated with colored ribbons at the end. It must be mentioned that while whipping can be painful, the purpose is not to cause suffering. Rather, the purpose is for males to exhibit their attraction to females; unvisited females can even feel offended. The whipped girl gives a colored egg to the guy as a sign of her thanks and forgiveness. A legend says that girls should be whipped in order to keep their health and fertility during whole next year. The females can get revenge in the afternoon when they can pour a bucket of cold water on any male. The habit slightly varies across the Czech Republic. Some feminists allege it is a disgusting medieval tradition.” (All emphasis in bold are mine).
What Are Mature Christians To Do?
There is so much written history concerning not only Easter, but many of our other “religious” holidays that it is obvious some things have been compromised and so watered down that they no longer resemble anything in the spiritual at all.
This is how the enemy likes to deceive and distort. He will take something as wonderful as the events leading up to and including the Resurrection and distort them into something that was his long before the event that we as Christians observe.
Our duty as Christians is to make sure that each generation and each family member understands the importance of each of our celebrations in the scheme of the spiritual and ETERNITY. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ; the demonstration of the promises of our Heavenly Father that He would make a way for us to get back to Him where we once were. Easter or as many other Christians are adopting the term, the Passover of Christ, (or Resurrection Day) is to remind us of the promise of the Father fulfilled in the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, the Living Word of God! Our Loving, Heavenly Father, passed over us and chose to offer His Son in our place. It is the Son’s blood on our hearts and spirit that gives us direct access once again to our Heavenly Father!
We as Christians, renewed in our spirit, reborn of the Spirit of God, can take back what is rightfully ours by the simple act of teaching the truth to our family and friends. We can curb the tide of commercialization by refusing to spend so much of our hard earned money on the trappings of the world. I am not saying do not celebrate and I’m not saying do not treat the kids, but temper it with proper teaching. So, rather, celebrate it in the tradition of the Apostles and what Jesus instituted right before His surrender to the cross. (Again not saying to duplicate it exactly!). Remember the fellowship and the reason for it.
Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”‘” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. – Matthew 26:17-20.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Matthew 26:26-30.
Do you see here what the real celebration was? Those He loved, he gathered around Him. They ate, drank and fellowshipped. At times it was very serious, but don’t forget, He also enjoyed the company of those He was with. Before they left their meal and their fellowship, they sang a hymn. They sang, they rejoiced in God the Father!
Yes, maybe there are some changes that have taken place. Now, it is our families and many times our friends that gather around our Easter table. But let’s bring true fellowship back. Let’s remember the things that Jesus told His precious friends; the promises that were to be theirs because of what He was about to do. Let’s remember that is the reason to celebrate!
In closing, I want to leave one other thought with you. If you reread and notice Matthew 26:29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
What a wonderful opportunity for us to use the remaining time before Jesus comes back to get us to practice our fellowshipping with one another in preparation for the BIG banquet that is prepared for those who love Him!! That will be the greatest celebration and all these others will pale in comparison.
There is an expression that has cropped up the last several years for the Christmas Season; Jesus is the Reason for the Season! Let’s remember that during the Passover of Christ (or the Resurrection) Season as well! He’s the only reason we as Christians need to celebrate, He is the reason for everything in our lives!! Without Him there IS nothing and we HAVE nothing.
God bless you all as you celebrate the real reason for this season, the crucifixion, death AND the resurrection into everlasting life of our Redeemer – Jesus Christ, the Living Word Everlasting!!