For Christians, two High Holy Days are Christmas and Easter, the dates associated with the birth and death of Jesus. However, by merging religion and politics, we have secularized Christianity and now celebrate them as holidays, days off from work, not as sacred High Holy Days. The foolish notion of making Christianity a national religion has “de-spiritualized” the Christian Church.
At first, the Christian Church celebrated Passover with their Jewish neighbors, remembered the death of Jesus on the cross, and then celebrated his resurrection two days later. However, the date of Passover, the 15th day of Nisan, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, meant that Easter was often not on a Sunday.
Christianity became a pagan religion in 325 A.D. when the First Council of Nicaea connected the resurrection of Jesus to natural phenomena, March Equinox, and moon phases. The Church decided to celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of equal length of light and darkness of the year. Over time symbols of fertility and spring, eggs, bunnies, and lilies, were added.
However, amid these symbols, the message of the restoration of life in Jesus is often lost in modern celebrations. We have made Easter a ritual where young girls wear spring dresses, and parents make their once-a-year pilgrimage to a church. We chant “He is Risen” liturgy without giving any thought to what we say and take home a lily as if it is a souvenir.
By making Easter about “New” life in Jesus, we made it difficult for people to experience it. But year after year, we talk about getting a new start. Year after year, we talk about renewing our faith in Jesus. But this gets old fast and quickly loses its meaning. After all, Jesus rose from the dead only once. We must recover the spiritual significance of Easter and separate it from chocolate bunnies and egg hunts.
Easter is about restoring “spiritualness” or “sacredness” to our daily lives. Celebrating our life in Jesus is meant to happen each day we wake up, not only when the earth sits on its axis. Celebrating our hope in Jesus is meant to be experienced as often as we breathe. The joy we express in worship is intended to be a regular occurrence of the faith community, not an annual event.
Let us celebrate Easter each and every day as we live the life we have in Jesus. Let us celebrate the joy we have in Jesus each and every day.