So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. [1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (NLT)]
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. [John 3:16 (NLT)]
Last January, as I removed the signs of Christmas around the house, I wondered why Easter doesn’t get the same amount of decoration and celebration. Granted, most of the holiday traditions for both holy days have pagan beginnings. Nevertheless, those customs have become part of our culture and Christmas overshadows Easter by a mile. Christmas has its own color scheme, its own genre of music, and its own beloved fictional characters, including a Grinch, a snowman, and a red-nosed reindeer. We spend weeks decorating our homes, purchasing gifts, and preparing food. We have special Christmas attire ranging from Santa hats to candy cane jewelry and ugly holiday sweaters. People decorate trees, hang garlands and lights, dress up their dogs, and adorn their cars with reindeer horns. Every year sees at least one Christmas-themed movie release (although it’s a bit of a stretch to call Office Christmas Party a Christmas movie) and we get a plethora of holiday-themed television shows throughout December. Christmas music is played from the first of November to New Year’s and our calendars are filled with dates for holiday parties and concerts. Easter traditions pale in comparison to Christmas. The Easter Bunny can’t hold a candle to Santa, the few Easter hymns are sung only a couple of Sundays, and hard-boiled eggs and Peeps are second-rate when compared to the plethora of Christmas treats! As far as celebrations go, Easter is sort of like the neglected step-child of holy days. Of course, it’s difficult to generate a festive spirit when Easter is preceded by a season of penitence and fasting and follows the darkest day in Christendom.
The sermon series in our church last December was “The Purpose of Christmas.” It caused me to examine what Christmas truly means to me. As much as I enjoy the season’s traditions (in spite of their pagan origins), Christmas really has nothing to do with decorating houses, lighting candles, baking cookies, over-indulging in holiday food, giving or receiving gifts, sending cards, singing carols or even gathering with family and friends. Our sacred Christmas traditions emphasize Jesus’ birth with nativity scenes and pageants but that night in Bethlehem was just the beginning of a far greater story—the story of who Jesus was and what He did for us. We usually consider a person’s arrival more reason to celebrate that his departure but, in Christ’s case, it is just the opposite. The meaning of Christmas is actually found in the Easter story. Without Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension and the forgiveness, redemption and salvation that resulted, the Christmas story would remain just that – a story. For me, the purpose of Christmas can be summed up in one word: Easter!
So, Merry Christmas and Happy Easter!
Somehow we just don’t make the same boisterous fun of Holy Week that we do of Christmas. No one plans to have a holly, jolly Easter. … Easter may seem boring to children, and it is blessedly unencumbered by the silly fun that plagues Christmas. Yet it contains the one thing needful for every human life: the good news of Resurrection. [Frederica Mathewes-Green]