I know what it means to wish me a Happy Birthday and to tell me Merry Christmas. I know what it means when a friend or acquaintance asks me if I had a nice Thanksgiving. But what does it mean to wish someone a Happy Easter or to ask “How was your Easter?”
For Christians, Easter is the most significant event on our calendars. Many pastors think the Easter morning sermon is the most important one they will preach over the course of a year. As I said Sundaymorning, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the most essential Christian doctrine of our faith.
Late Sunday afternoon as I walked out my front door to my car to drive over to the church building for the evening service, I heard one of my neighbors walking through the neighborhood yell to another neighbor, “Did you have a good Easter?” My neighbor responded with a hearty, “Yeah!” I heard similar expressions throughout the weekend from people in the community, “Have a nice holiday,” and “Happy Easter.” On Monday the same people asked, “Did you have a nice holiday?” or “How was your Easter?” I wonder what they mean. What makes for a happy Easter?
Slowly but surely the Easter holiday is becoming less of what it is, the declaration and celebration of the risen Jesus Christ, and more of what it isn’t, a day for community events and family get togethers. We now confirm the day successful when the egg hunt goes well, when everyone is in one place to sit down at the family dinner table, and when the boys didn’t put holes in the knees of their new pants and the girls didn’t spill gravy on their new dresses. How those in my neighborhood define a happy Easter and how believers define a happy Easter should be significantly different.
To answer the question, believers gathering together to declare the fact of the risen Jesus makes for a happy Easter. Hearing others declare in song and word that Jesus lives makes for a happy Easter. Seeing new believers choose to be with others of the redeemed on Easter Sunday makes for a great day. Hearing professions of faith and witnessing the public baptisms of new Christians makes for a great day. Sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ around the Lord’s Table, remembering His work on the cross in the elements, and singing When I Survey the Wondrous Cross makes for a great day. Sitting in worship with my wife and children who love the same risen Lord that I love, believe the same gospel I believe, and hope in the same promise in which I hope makes for a good day. Eating a delicious noon meal with other believers, talking about the Lord’s work in our lives and the prospect of the Lord’s work in the lives of others makes for a great day. Thinking that I will someday die as many of those I love have already died and thinking that the living Jesus Christ conquers death so that my death like theirs becomes the gateway to eternal life makes for a great day.
So, yes, I had a great Easter. I want it always to be that kind of day for my family, myself, and our church.
As always I welcome your feedback and any ideas you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.