How Can Ministries Send A Clear Salvation Message?Today's post deals with the conundrum of reaching people at Easter with the salvation message. How exactly did eggs and rabbits get intertwined with the resurrection message, and how can it be untangled?
Journeying from Easter to Resurrection My Experiences and ThoughtsGrowing up in the United Church, I remember a large emphasis in our household placed on dying eggs, buying new hats and clothes, and planting tomato seeds on Good Friday. Yes, at church there was discussion of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, but it was a very confusing message to me as a child. Somewhere along the way the idea of the eggs was explained away to me as the eggs being symbolic of the stone that was rolled away at the tomb. Where the Easter Bunny hiding the eggs figured into this never made much sense, but growing up, one thing our Easter Egg hunt did not do, was bring us closer to God. Church was one place we didn't want to go in our sugar filled haze of excitement. So how exactly did rabbits and eggs get entangled with the celebration of Christ's resurrection?
Easter - History of The English Name
In many countries the name for the holiday is derived from the Hebrew word for Passover - Pesach- the meal Christ observed with His followers before his crucifixion. Two countries with this name for the holiday are Italy -Pasqua and France - Pâques. The English word for the celebration comes from German - Ostern. But where did they get Ostern from? There are several theories on this. One is that Ostern is based on the name of a pagan Goddess - Oestra. The other explanation is a bit more complicated- it was a misinterpretation from the Latin for "White week" the ancient Christian practice of wearing white during Easter Week -esostarum. A third theory points to the German word for east -osten where the sun rises, being a play on the word. Many of the traditions observed in Canada and the USA stem from Old German practices linked to spring celebrations - for example bunnies and eggs.
The Germans came to Christianity through the wife of Clovis - Clothilde who was raised as a Christian by her mother [drowned by her brother-in law who killed his brother.] Clothilde had prayed for her husband, leader of the Franks to become a Christian. Clovis prayed that if he were triumphant in battle, he would convert to Christianity. Many aspects of Canadian Easter celebrations seem to be linked to old spring celebrations from the Franks - specifically eggs and rabbits.
Bible Verses Connected to Choosing Easter Observances
Each year, around the time of special celebrations, a specific verse pops into my head. Can you guess what it is? Since I have little skill in knowing where to find what in my Bible, and this verse pertains so much to religious observances, I've taken it as being a word from God.
Isaiah 1 :11-14
In Isaiah 1 11:14, God says he is tired of empty sacrifices. He is tired of New Moon Feasts, and appointed festivals. The important part is the intent. What is is that we are celebrating in our hearts? Are we truly celebrating the resurrection of Christ with chocolate rabbits and candy eggs?
We must each answer for ourselves whether the way in which we are celebrating Christ's resurrection brings us closer to God or places a stumbling block between us and God.
How Are You Returning the Emphasis to the Joy of Resurrection in Your Community?
While some churches are trying to clarify the message by holding memorial services on Good Friday, and trying to move the shift from Easter - a celebration based the pagan Oestra celebration, many churches keep Easter in the name of these special services.
What if Easter was the only service of the year? No other Sunday services. No other gatherings. One shot to make it count.
How could you persuade others to start new traditions focussed on the joy of Resurrection Sunday?
One new tradition I started with my youngest daughter, when I taught Sunday School was making Empty Tomb Rolls. As a teen it is still a tradition she cherishes. Have you made these with your children?
Empty Tomb Rolls - Makes 8
- 1 pkg of Refrigerator Crescent Rols
- 8 Marshmallows
- Cooking Oil or Melted Butter
Give each child a Marshmallow and a Crescent Roll triangle. Explain how after JEsus was taken down from the cross his friends prepared his body for burial by placing him on a linen cloth and putting oil and spices on his body then wrapping it in the linen cloth. On Resurrection Sunday, when his friends came to find Him, all they could find were the linen cloths.
Have the children place the marshmallow on the crescent roll then cover it with the melted butter and cinnamon before sealing the dough around it.
Place the crescent rolls in the oven- symbolizing the tomb, to bake as per package directions. When the crescent rolls come out of the oven, allow them to cool before opening - the marshmallow will be absorbed into the rolls and the "linen cloths" will be empty.
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May God Bless you as you bless others,