Thursday, March 31, 2016 4:55 pm
Easter Sunday, a beautiful day it was. I went to church with my family and like it is with most Pentecostal churches in the heart of Lagos, you have to get to church possibly an hour earlier to get a parking space within the premises. After settling down in the church auditorium, I used the waiting time to search for Easter photos online I could send out on social media. Now that everyone or almost everyone is on social media, who needs physical cards? At first it didn’t mean anything seeing beautifully decorated eggs, ‘Easter bunnies’ and inspiring quotes.
But as my search progressed, I found that there were fewer images that showed Jesus, the cross, the empty tomb or anything that really said anything about the resurrection. I found something that suited the purpose. But I couldn’t help but wonder what has happened to Christian festivities, at Christmas baby Jesus has to battle with Santa Claus, at Easter the risen Jesus has to battle with eggs and bunnies!
I thought I was the only one concerned about this until I saw this comment on Bible.org by Bob Deffinbaugh. “This week I found it necessary to do some of my research and preparation for this Easter message in a nearby dime store. I went there to learn how the average person attempts to celebrate Easter. That’s right, the dime store. One of the best sources of material on the theology of Easter is to be found in the Easter section of the greeting cards. I found a fairly good sized selection of cards on display, the vast majority of which were entirely secular. They ranged from the ‘thinking of you at Easter’ variety to the ones which had pictures of fuzzy teddy bears, rabbits, and Easter eggs, and some kind of inane holiday greeting. Frequently there was a ‘Spring is Here’ motif with Easter somehow associated with the coming of Spring, and the happy thought of leaving behind a dreary winter and looking forward to the fresh new life which signals the coming of Spring.”
There were three or four cards which might loosely be called “religious” cards. For example, one had a picturesque church on the cover, another had “an Easter prayer,” and another had a religious word or two. Not so much as one card contained a cross, an empty tomb, not even the name of the Lord Jesus. If the greeting card displays of most stores are like the one I visited, we would have to agree that the resurrection of Christ is not considered very significant by the marketplace. Easter bunnies and eggs have won “hands down” over Christ, the cross of Calvary, and the empty tomb.”
The significance of Easter is increasingly being ignored or distorted by businesses and even churches all over the world. Easter Sunday is becoming more of a ritual, a part of the celebration of the ‘long holiday’ (Friday – Monday), than it is an observance and celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. In church, women show off their new lace and gele, after service we head to an eatery for food we all have in the pot at home. Also once a year church attenders show up to add to the number of attendees and probably increasing the offering collection. Not to mentions numerous parties and wedding happening all over town. Not that any of these is bad, only that the real meaning of Easter is missing.
Our church service eventually started and the worship leader stared with “Out of the grave He arose…” and that was it! We all sang in unison with such energy and excitement. The lyrics were scrolled on the screen for those of us who have either forgotten the stanzas or didn’t know them. I remembered my days in Anglican church – I’m Pentecostal right now, but the ‘Anglican’ in me will always remain – as it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be …Whenever it was time for any Christian festivity, activities, songs, hymns, lessons, chants, even the colour of the priest’s robe will reflect it, all these will make you reflect on the festivity of the moment.
These days most of us don’t even know when it’s lent, we don’t know when it’s Ash Wednesday, some even forget Good Friday! I still remember a film show on the crucifixion I watched in church on a Good Friday when I was a kid. Call them traditions and I will agree with you, but these same traditions helped shaped our spiritual and moral lives to a large extent, but when they are taken away and replaced with eggs and bunnies, I wonder how our children will learn or even understand the significance of Easter or any other Christian festivity.
The resurrection of our Lord is a unique event which has no precedent. His resurrection gives our lives a meaning, direction and the opportunity to make a fresh start, to ‘live again’ no matter the circumstances or challenges we may find in our lives and in our homes. That is what Easter really is about.
Please share your thoughts.
You may reach Grace via email: [email protected] You can also follow her on twitter @GraceEssen, on Facebook, and also follow her blog @Mum2MumAfrica.com.