Let's Stop Calling it Easter

I mean, unless you're celebrating a pagan fertility goddess. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. John 11:25-26 Currently the bunnies and flowers and eggs abound in every store- including the Christian bookstores. Churches are planning and pleading help for their various Easter festivities. Yet as believers in Jesus the Messiah, we do not celebrate Easter, or at least the Lord says He would rather we don't participate in such celebrations. "In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:9 and my personal fav,“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Ex. 20:3-6 It's really more than He'd rather us not, but the Father abhors participating in any pagan god anything. No matter how cool and outreachy your church makes it. Instead, He commands us to celebrate the fulfillment of a feast called First Fruits, to those of us who know Messiah, Resurrection. Also, the Word of the Lord doesn't change, we ought not to make it fit our own catchy agenda and call the Resurrection, 'Easter.' It's not the same; we adapted a sacred feast to the culture around us. The Israelites were commanded by our God to celebrate seven feasts forever. The Hebrew word owlam, is the word used in Lev. 23:41, and it means- forever, always, continuous. So if anyone wants to toss the "New Covenant" argument my way, please include your definition of forever. In the Spring they were to commemorate Passover, the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. The Feast of Firstfruits actually took place during the week-long Passover celebration (Lev. 23:4-8), on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred in the midst of the week (vv. 9–11). Pentecost occurred fifty days after that Sabbath (vv. 15–16) and marked the culmination of what started at the Feast of Firstfruits. As its name indicates, the Feast of Firstfruits marked thanksgiving to God for the firstfruits of the harvest — in this case, the grain harvested in the spring. At this festival, the Israelites offered the very first sheaf of the harvest and were not allowed to eat anything from the crop until they gave its initial portion to the Lord (vv. 9–14). This required a great deal of faith on the part of the Israelites, as they would be giving the offering of firstfruits at a time when not much was ready to be harvested. And here we in the West stockpile and store up for some upcoming doom...Lord help us. They had to trust God that He would indeed provide the fullness of grain that had yet to come forth, something that from a human perspective was far from certain given the people’s utter dependence on the right amount of rainfall and so forth to give the best crop. Somewhere around AD 30, the firstfruits of an even greater harvest came- it was on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred in the midst of the Passover celebration that Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1-10) In case anyone, Jews or otherwise, have any doubts that His resurrection fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits, Paul tells us explicitly that Messiah is the firstfruits of those who will be raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Just as the firstfruits offered to God under the old covenant anticipated the fuller harvest to come, the resurrection of Jesus anticipates the bodily resurrection of His people first promised under the old covenant. This is truly a holy time of year, one that we celebrate with great joy because of the fulfillment of a promise- one that grants us Eternal life and incredible blessings here on this earth. Easter actually began as a pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Since there were people who were pagan there have been celebrations of the equinoxes and the solstices as their sacred times to their gods. The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance. People for millenia mapped their whole life according to the patterns of creation. (Gee, I wonder where they got the idea...) Easter derives its name from a pagan goddess Eostre who was a goddess of spring or renewal. Tis why her feast is attached to the vernal equinox Many of the pagan customs associated with the celebration of spring eventually became absorbed within Christianity as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus. Eggs became a symbol of new life, and then became a common people's explanation of the resurrection; after the chill of the winter months, nature was coming to life again. Except Jesus didn't resurrect from an egg. And really, let's think this through, in order for an egg to be a symbol of life it has to be fertilized, so... Yea, not a very good symbol, people. I have chickens and listen, there ain't nothing lively about an egg except the chicken who laid it. Again, not a good symbol. Enter our friend the Rabbit. Rabbits and hares are also associated with fertility and were symbols linked to the goddess Eostre. So on this most holy and sacred day for any believer in Jesus the Messiah, we also toss in eggs and rabbits- fertility sex symbols. Fascinating. In a world that has turned all but completely insane I am reminded of the scriptures that call us out as believers to be set apart, holy, pure. Because of our faith, the fear of the Lord is meant to fall on others. They are to look at our life and note something is different, the way we live, the way we eat, the way we rest and as it so happens, the way we celebrate and what we celebrate. Why would you think it acceptable to celebrate in the same manner as your unbelieving friends? Why would they ever want your God when theirs is suiting them just fine? You see my God is of the miraculous and healing realm. A bunny, while cute, cannot bring anything or anyone back to life, let alone heal. An egg, while tasty with toast, cannot prosper me (chicken math, not getting rich any time soon off those birds), and it cannot give me wisdom, joy or peace. Our God is worth celebrating in a separate manner. Our Jesus has been doing just fine calling people to Himself for over 2000 years, He certainly doesn't need our cute church programs and egg hunts to make the gospel more friendly. The gospel isn't user friendly in case you hadn't noticed. The gospel is summed up beautifully by GK Chesterton- "Jesus promised His disciples three things; that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble." Indeed, Mr. Chesterton, indeed. Celebrating the resurrected Savior, the Feast of First Fruits as it were is huge in our faith. It deserves our utmost attention and so does the Messiah. He doesn't need to be dressed up in eggs, flowers or chocolate bunnies. What He needs is believers who are rooted and grounded in love, willing to be relentless with truth and a pursuit of His ways so that a dying would can have Hope. An egg hunt won't bring the Hope of Jesus, but explaining the timeless celebration of Passover, the true symbolism in that, our Jesus being raised from the dead as the First Fruit in the resurrection? Now that my friends, will give them great Hope and awe. The message of the Cross and empty tomb, the promises that are now ours in Jesus? Woo! That'll will surely preach a word of Hope.

Let's Stop Calling it Easter