03-27-16 The Lord Has Risen!

Before I get too far into this and forget to mention it, let me wish you a Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Actually, I had a great conversation with someone about why I tend to use that term rather than talking about “Easter” -- and it’s not because of the pagan associations with the word... except that it sorta still is...

See, the term “Easter” historically comes from the Saxon word for the month the pagan Spring festival fell in... which itself appears to have come from the name of Eostre, the Saxon goddess of the dawn, Spring, and fertility... who appears to be the European counterpart to the Middle-Eastern goddess Ishtar... who was the consort of the Akkadian god Tammuzi (who died in a boar hunt, and was brought back to life every Spring by the forty days of mourning of his worshipers -- a pagan practice which Ezekiel 8 tells us had entered even into the Temple in Jerusalem).  So yes, there’s a pagan background to the focus on mourning before the resurrection, the fertility symbols of eggs and hares, and the name itself, but that’s not really my concern with the word.

I confess that I have more concern with our modern idolatry of holidays.  We tend to idolize our family traditions and our watered-down cultural observances of Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc., and make those our primary associations when we think of the days.  Here’s a litmus test: when it’s more important for us to make sure that we’re home preparing the traditional family ham or turkey or whatever than worshiping with our church family on these “holy days,” then they’ve officially primarily become vapid “holidays” to us instead.  And to be honest, I’ve found that when I use the word “Easter,” most people’s immediate, knee-jerk association is of pastels, baskets, candy, and family meals... and the resurrection of Jesus comes in second, at best.  That’s like throwing a birthday party for your child primarily because you just want an excuse to have cake... and making the celebration of the child’s birth a secondary emphasis at best (and how much would the kid appreciate that?).

So just as our emphasis on “Good Friday” needs to be on remembering the suffering that Christ went through in order die to save us from our sins and buy us adoption into His family (that not everything good is necessarily pleasant, and that not everything painful is necessarily bad), our emphasis on “Resurrection Sunday” needs to be on how awesome it is that His death didn’t ultimately end in death (that He truly did die on our behalf, but that death wasn’t strong enough to hold onto our Lord). 

We serve a Living God, not a dead one, and that’s worth celebrating openly, clearly, and with a primary importance in our minds.  No, there’s nothing wrong with using the word “Easter” at all -- I sometimes do myself.  And there’s nothing wrong with Easter baskets or candy -- I enjoy both of those a great deal.  But our primary focus on God’s “holy days” really needs to be on our holy God, and not on our own holiday fun. 

Place God first and foremost, and keep His name truly holy on holy days...