<I posted this over at simplechurchseattle.com, but thought I’d post it here as well for my own records.>
“Hey gang, what should we do this Easter?” It’s a question that evokes a variety of different responses among those we gather with. Here’s mine:
There was a time when I thought it was one of the more exciting Christian traditions, and my heart was pure about it. I love the beginnings of Spring, I love early mornings, and the triumph of Jesus beating the enemy at his own game, getting up from being dead – it’s the best!
And it’s not that I no longer value those things, but I’ve come to a different place with respect to religious, man-made traditions. They are so hollow, empty, dead – like the ash in a fireplace. They’re all used up, there’s nothing in them that fires me up anymore. After so many years of perpetuating the traditions of man, and the religious businesses of a church subculture, thinking these were things “ordained” from heaven, I loathe to lift even a pinky finger to do them anymore. At least this one. And I don’t want to encourage the thought in my children that performing the obligation of a religious tradition pleases our loving Father in heaven.
Parenthetical insert: Like many, I grew up thinking Easter (and Christmas) were holidays all about Christ. We know now that both actually have pagan roots (for more, google the three words together: pagan christian easter). Pagan roots alone hasn’t been a big issue for me – so what if we take something with pagan roots and turn it into an opportunity to worship Jesus and the one true God!?
But the biggest harm that I see from these holidays is that so many of us who seek to follow Jesus still feel trapped by thinking God is somehow pleased/appeased by our observance of these religious rituals, and we have to do SOMEthing “spiritual” to commemorate this religious holiday, or somehow we haven’t measured up to being a true follower of Jesus. And how does that color our entire relationship with him? Or said another way, what are the roots of this sense of obligation in us, and what would be Jesus’ response to it?
So for me, hearing the question, “what should we do this Easter?” evokes, not a quest for the right answer, but a fresh realization that it’s the wrong question. It’s simply one I don’t hear the Lord asking (not among the NT church, not among many who’s relationship with God I know of and respect, not in my own heart), so I’m not inclined to seek an answer for it. The only redeeming value I see in this question is if it becomes a spring board to honest thought and discussion about how this and similar religious practices may still have us enslaved, and lead us to him afresh for the freedom he so desires for us. My view is that we shouldn’t waste another ounce of time, energy, or resources coddling or even pacifying a man-made, religious tradition that holds no life for us; in other words, that God is not filling with his life.
Of course, I’m sure there are others who enjoy the traditions of this holiday and don’t have concerns about enslavement to it. I’d like to think we can find creative ways of grace and freedom to allow each other to do as we please with traditions of man. Having the variety helps to communicate the bigger picture of what’s a core essential of the faith, and what’s optional.