Easter 2013:Remembrance and Celebration

Easter is very early this year, and in Victoria still in Summer Time, which makes the dawn service a little easier to manage!

The name "Easter" is evidence of a process that we so often ignore - the way language changes. So is "Sunday" - in languages derived from Latin, it is "Lord's Day", not "day of the Sun". Our names for the days come from pagan times, and so does the word "Easter". It should be "Passiontide" really!

Words change meaning in other ways too - look at "sin" and "repentance", words that were so important to English-speaking Christians in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are now so tarnished and misunderstood in common speech that I get embarrassed whenever they are used by Christians - they conjure up the image of God as the angry old man in the clouds, ready to punish the slightest mistake. I wouldn't worship a God like that. I much prefer picking up meanings associated with the underlying ancient Greek words, such as "falling short" and "changing your mind". Maybe these are not strong enough, but they avoid the modern misunderstandings that have arisen with "sin" and "repentance".

In the end, for me Easter is about reconciliation. It looks gruesome (crucifixion), and unbelievable (resurrection), but if we focus only on these aspects we get sidetracked. Jesus died and rose again for a purpose, that in mysterious fashion presently beyond us,humankindcould be reconnected and live in relationship with the One who sustains all existence. Jesus was both human and divine - he rejoins the two. That connection draws us to rise above pettiness, greed, and envy, and calls us to work together towards greatness. Without it we have division and strife, and the belief we can and largely do know it all, in spite of evidence to the contrary - a recipe for misery!

For those who are not Christian, Easter is just another holiday. And there's another word that has lost its original meaning - holy-day!

But for Christians, I would say that Easter is the central and most important time for remembrance and celebration - remembering that in Jesus, through death and resurrection God acted to bring about change for us and all humanity, and celebrating the hope that we too will rise again, engaged in some mysterious way in the ongoing story of existence.

There is a great challenge here, for every one of us - either to dismiss Easter, or accept it and act accordingly. Which way will you go?

Parkdale Church of Christ 2012-18 —A community of faith, hope and compassion.