“This family believes in the Easter bunny. He died for our sins in that helicopter crash” – Peter Griffin (Family Guy)
I’m morally against Easter baskets. Actually, I’m starting to get really put out at what Easter has become: Another commercialized quasi-holiday designed to sell candy and clothing. As I’ve grown in my personal relationship with Jesus, I’ve become troubled and perplexed about the Christian mindset toward Easter. It really hit me a few years ago when I was talking with my one of my co-workers about her how much she had spent on her kids Easter baskets. It was full of candy and electronics. Her kids were teenagers and they still expected an Easter basket full of goodies. People spend $100’s of dollars on gifts and new clothes as Christian’s sell-out to capitalism. Leaving sacrifice, suffering, and salvation in the shadow of the Easter bunny.
Christians typically don’t take Easter as seriously as I would hope. They get together with family, cook a ham (because Jesus loved porkchops), and hunt for eggs filled with candy in the backyard. It’s a combination of Christmas gift-giving and Thanksgiving family dinner. And the enormous significance of Easter is lost.
Without Easter, Christmas is meaningless.
Without Easter, Christianity is irrelevant.
The Christian experience of Easter begins on Friday. The darkest day in history for followers of Jesus. Think how it felt to be a follower of Jesus in the moment where he struggles for one last breath. Roll the emotions of watching 9/11, learning Michael Jackson died, and your dog getting hit by a car all into one and you might begin to understand how the disciples felt. Lost, confused, hurt, angry, and afraid. After watching their best friend, leader, confidant, and God broken to pieces in the most sadistic way possible. By church leaders nonetheless. They lock themselves away in a room, cowering. Waiting for the knock on the door to be dragged away and slaughtered themselves. Sabbath was no restful day.
Sunday morning I see them emaciated from lack of food for two days, sleep deprived and emotionally drained. A knock on the door and their hearts leap in to their throats. It’s time. But the door opens and in steps Mary to tell them Jesus’ body is gone. Adding insult to injury now someone stole his body? But she tells them it’s a miracle. Peter and John race to see for themselves. What if it’s a trap though? Wasn’t an entire garrison of Roman soldiers guarding the tomb? What if they’re just waiting for us to show up and arrest us? “We’ll all be on crosses by nightfall” they’re thinking.
I can’t imagine the mix of confusion and joy as they see an empty tomb. The soldiers are gone. The body’s gone. And an Angel is in it’s place. There’s no Easter bunny. There’s no basket full of new fishing gear and chocolate.
When I come to Easter, I’m turned off by the flash and celebration. The significance of Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter Morning are far more personal to me than anything that Hallmark can express. I don’t look for a celebration, but an appreciation of the life I have as a result of the life Jesus gave. It’s introspective. It’s deeply personal. Buying an Easter bonnet, a new shirt, and enjoying the time with family isn’t going to send you to hell, but it’s also distracting you from the power of Easter.
When a band like Nirvana or Blink 182 begins to sell t-shirts, bumper stickers, and their own clothing line their fans are quickly turned off. They cry out “Sell Out” because the values that drew them to the band are no longer visible. I feel the same about Easter anymore. Christ is glossed over with gimmicks and commercialism. This week I received an invitation to a church left on my car windshield that said:
“As we rejoice in the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we’re going to celebrate with ‘The Ultimate Giveaway’. Your attendance in our Easter Sunday morning service allows you to register to win GREAT prizes like a Honda Civic, Flat Screen TV or Apple iPad.”
Take the Honda Civic and give me Jesus back. That’s all I ask.