By Eugene C. Scott
Easter raises grave questions. Like why did the Easter Bunny stop coming when I turned ten years-old? Did I do something to offend him? And is pink a legitimate color? Really, pink?
But seriously. As bright and cheerful a holiday as Easter is, it can call us to consider deeper issues.
I only remember–well–two Easters from my childhood. One was a typical American Easter. My family owned horses and on this particular Easter Sunday we gathered all the aunts and uncles and cousins–a huge crowd–at the horse pasture for a picnic and Easter egg hunt. Surrounded by towering cottonwood trees, us kids tore up the moist spring earth hunting eggs. A Colorado blue sky soared above us. It was a blast.
Yet to my knowledge none of us asked why we and other entire families–an entire nation–took one spring Sunday to dress up, decorate eggs, eat ham, and celebrate. I knew nothing of going to church. What on earth were we celebrating?
Humans do many strange things. Not the least of which is contrive an entire commercial season/industry around a six-foot tall bunny that lays and delivers candy filled eggs. We are–if nothing else–inventive.
The other Easter I remember was also a typical American Easter, though atypical for me. That chilly spring Sunday in 1973 I joined thousands of others–billions worldwide–at an Easter worship gathering at Red Rocks Amphitheater west of Denver (seeLent: Is Your Life a Feast or Famine?). Unlike my other Easter memory, everyone knew why we rose with the sun and shivered in the cold mountain air.
Humans believe many strange things. At this point some of you may ask: what’s the difference between believing in a six-foot, egg laying bunny and a man who came back to life? No one I know personally has seen either. Both are highly improbable.
Yet there is a difference between believing in a still living Jesus and a big, cute bunny.
First, though no one I know has seen Jesus physically walking around their neighborhood, over 400 people in Jerusalem and its suburbs did see and touch him alive days after he was killed on the cross. No one over age ten–and maybe Jimmy Stewart–has seen a real, living Easter Bunny, however.
I know the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is a deep pool and many good and intelligent people can argue both for or against it. That argument can take place in the comment section below or in a future blog. My point here is that credible people claimed to see Jesus alive after he died. That truth begs us to debate and discuss it’s veracity and this contention alone raises one reason for celebrating Easter well above the other.
Second, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I believed in the Easter Bunny for ten long years. Sadly that belief changed nothing in my life, except maybe bestowing on me a life-long love of chocolate and the ensuing cavities and pimples. Believing or not believing in the Easter Bunny meant nothing.
Compare this with what happened to me in the years between that Easter in the horse pasture and the Easter at Red Rocks. In the summer of 1972–in the mountains above Colorado Springs–I met someone who so powerfully impacted me that I eventually gave up my suicidal life of drinking, drug abuse, fighting and failure. This person saved my very life. And though I still quit high school, this person convinced me I had value and worth–and eventually a purpose. Because of this person, I gave up self-loathing and came to understand the power of love. I no longer wallowed in my brokenness and mistakes, wishing I had never been born, but rather began to change from the inside out. Even in pain, I now had hope, sometimes even joy.
Before I met this person, I could not imagine living longer than age thirty. I had no dreams, hopes, plans. Today I am fifty-four (a very, very young fifty-four). Today I have more plans and hopes for the next year than I had for my whole life back then.
Who made such a difference for me? Who was this person?
You may have anticipated the answer–and some don’t want to hear it. Some want to relegate my dramatic change to anything and anyone else: luck, fate, determination, growing up.
But that June day, below the silent pines, my heart was empty and broken. And I met not an Easter Bunny, not fate or luck, and I can promise you I had no determination and had no intention to grow up.
That day I met a living Person: Jesus. I could not see him nor touch him. And I may not be able to convince you Jesus lives. But I felt him and knew he was real and with me. With Jesus’ power and friendship, a newness began to grow in me as if my very cells were being recreated. I came to life that day because of someone who came back to life 2,000 years ago. We may laugh with children who believe in the Easter Bunny. But believing in Jesus has changed countless lives for thousands of year. The two cannot be compared.
The Easter Bunny and chocolate eggs and picnics are fun. But Easter raises grave questions because it is a celebration of Jesus being raised from the grave.
Eugene C. Scott this blog. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO
Beginning on March 13–the Sunday following Ash Wednesday–we will begin a Lenten series titled “Embrace: Discover, Desire . . . Jesus” at The Neighborhood Church. During worship we will explore those things of God we can embrace and add to our lives as a response of love to Jesus. These worship gatherings will also include hands-on opportunities to practice these things God asks us to add to our lives. Join us. See tnc3.org for worship times.
By Eugene C. Scott