Easter is THE most important holiday on the Christian calendar. Really. It is. Without Easter there is pretty much no point to Christianity. If Jesus didn't actually rise from the dead than our whole religion is pretty much crap.
It SHOULD be a holiday celebrated bigger than Christmas.
But in my experience it has mostly been celebrated in a rather clichéd painfully dull religiously ceremonial hat-tip to the big day.
Now let me just mention here the my husband the pastor totally disagrees with me. He loves all that churchy stuff. He loves saying "He is Risen" and having the congregation chant back "He is Risen Indeed". He looks at me like I am insane when I do my yearly plea to him NOT to do the He is Risen thing once again. But I KNOW I am not the only one who is annoyed by this... it drives my friend Becky crazy too :)
But honestly? It annoys the heck out of me. It honestly makes me shudder and cringe. It is just WAY too overused. The words have lost all meaning.
Not that I am saying the resurrection has lost all meaning. It is just the WAY we are trying to "celebrate" it that has lost all meaning.
A friend of ours, Jon, from Bible School who is a pastor now (he and his wife have 4 boys- two of which are twins born just a few months ago!!) wrote an excellent post recently on how our church services are often missing lamentation. Here is one particular quote from his post...
One of the things that happens, I think, when we fail to incorporate lament into the rhythms of church life and worship is that it goes elsewhere. Or else it comes in and is not received, or is aimed at the church people with malice. Or other things may happen with it. ...
...We don't do ourselves any favours when we gloss over this stuff and leave it to prime time television to deal with it. Nor do we do ourselves any favours when we shelter ourselves from the fact that we still live with a lot of suffering and evil in our world.
I think we need to pause with Jesus outside the tomb of Lazarus or on the outskirts of a broken Jerusalem, and allow ourselves to weep. Even if we don't feel bad, to pause and weep with those who weep. "Blessed are those who mourn," Jesus said.
- Jon Coutts, this side of sunday
I love that he says we need to weep with those who weep even when we don't FEEL like weeping. So much in my life, and I suspect in the life of many others, is based on feelings. I feel happy so I will celebrate. I feel sad so I will mourn.
And so I concede, wholeheartedly, that my Easter celebrations should not be based on my feelings. But I must know how to lament on "Good" Friday and rejoice on Easter Sunday when my emotions do not reflect the "appropriate" response? How to do this without faking it? Because I refuse to fake it.
I really think there MUST be a way to truly honour Jesus' sacrifice and truly celebrate our risen Lord without it turning into some sort of pathetic ode to religion with no shred of reality present. Our church is doing something a little different this Easter- instead of a church service we are all meeting together in someone's home on Sunday morning, having communion, reading the Easter story and then sharing brunch together. I am looking forward to it. It feels like more of a celebration to me.
I am a part of the famous generation x. We are really good at tearing stuff down. We get disillusioned with stuff and say it sucks and throw it all away because we just can't handle it for one more second. So we leave. We are super good at leaving. Which is not all bad. Refusing to be someone you are not is a GOOD thing. God wants us to be who He created us to be, not a cookie-cutter version of the "perfect" Christian. But running away simply so we don't have to actually DO anything to make it better is not the answer. Even though sometimes I would really love to just avoid the whole thing.
The thing is? I am married to the pastor. I CAN'T just say it sucks and leave. Even when it DOES suck. Because I really DO agree with my husband that church can be great. Church CAN be the place it should be.
And so I intentionally work against my natural bent and for today that means trying to figure out how to DO Easter and mean it. How to translate the joy of bunnies and baby chicks and finding chocolate eggs and the anticipation of Spring into a true celebration of Jesus rising from the dead. Because the fact that Jesus rose from the dead is really VERY cool.
But please, if you see me this weekend, I BEG of you not to start the conversation with "He is Risen"... because I am guessing that me cringing and rolling my eyes is NOT the response you are looking for from your pastor's wife :)