Have you ever celebrated Passover? Attended a Seder meal? Or even been to one of those meals where Christians walk through Passover in order to understand Easter better? 1
On (Maundy) Thursday, I watched a programme with my mum about Passover. Giles Coren brought together Jews from a whole range of traditions to share in a Seder meal. It was fascinating to watch and we learnt a lot about Jewish traditions.
It also got me and my mum talking about traditions and festivals within Christianity. Having both attended Anglican churches with distinct liturgy, we do have a certain fondness for the liturgical calendar and set liturgy. Yet we both realised that apart from church services, the whole of Easter weekend just passes us by like any other weekend. Just one long holiday. I might even go so far as to say that I felt convicted by the dedication and love shown to this central Jewish festival in comparison to my own.
But this conviction doesn’t stop there. I’ve noticed on Instagram that decorating for Easter is becoming a thing. Or at least it is in Bristol amongst the lifestyle bloggers and freelancers I follow. One of my favourite Instagrammers, Franky (a.k.a @loveaudrey83), even has an Easter tree. Yet none of these Instagrammers appears to have a Christian faith. So how come it is those who aren’t Christians appearing to celebrate Easter more than those who are?
My suspicion is that it is a combination of fearing tradition and a secular culture of consumerism. Feel free to disagree and have a debate in the comments.
First up, consumerism
Let’s not lie, if there is a chance to make money from something we will find a way. It might have started with chocolate Easter eggs but now it is chocolate bunnies and pastel streamers and cuddly chicks. Hang on a minute… these are all to do with spring, not the Easter story we read in the Gospels. So, in an attempt to make money, we are being sold spring celebrations under the name of Easter?
It’s probably not surprising that everyone is jumping on the Easter bandwagon if it’s being turned into spring celebrations. Winter seems to get drearier and drearier. Is it any wonder that people are excited to celebrate spring and all its new life? Neither should we be surprised that consumerism has got its hands on this excitement. In the midst of all of this, the Easter message of Christ bringing new life through His resurrection is getting lost.
Is it me or are certain groups of Christians trying to remove tradition? While we are all told to invite friends to the Sunday service (even easier as it’s online this year), there seems to be a lot less celebration around it. This should be our biggest weekend of the year – the time when we walk through the Easter story and the whole reason Jesus came to Earth – so why don’t we make it more of a celebration? Instead, we treat it like any Sunday, only with chocolate eggs. Don’t even start me on how Ascension Day and Pentecost get totally ignored by some churches.
While I’m not in favour of tradition for the sake of tradition, perhaps we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, we don’t want to celebrate saints’ days as they were just regular humans who lived all out for God. (Great role models but not to be celebrated with festivals.) I am all for making sure we keep our eyes fixed on God alone. But when we stop giving over a whole day, or even a whole weekend, to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection, it might be that we have gone too far.
Time to learn to remember and celebrate again?
Though the Jews in the programme didn’t seem to all have an active faith, it was clear they felt strongly about the importance of Passover and celebrating it. Though we should not become people who go through rituals and ceremonies for the sake of doing them, what would it look like if we treated Easter with the same importance as they treated Passover?
- Continue to treat Easter Sunday like any weekend apart from the extra chocolate. Go to church, come home and eat a roast. Then get on with the rest of life/enjoy the bank holiday.
- Begin to treat Easter Sunday (or the whole weekend starting with Good Friday if you’re brave/intense) as a specific set-apart celebration. Whether it’s just you, your family or you have friends over, celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen!
I don’t want to be legalistic. None of this is mandatory. I just can’t help thinking that if we, as Bible-believing Christians, treated the Easter story as important enough for celebration then we could make an impact every spring.
1 Considering Passover is about Exodus, I’m still figuring out the connection to Easter beyond the timing each year and the link to the Last Supper’s cultural context.