The Easter Contention

Google has a different logo on its search page for the special days of the year which can be anything from St. Patrick’s day to Darwin’s Birthday to Christmas. I was curious to see if they had something special for Easter, there was none. I really did not know if I had to be surprised about that or not. I was surprised at myself that I was not sure what to think. After all each Easter I come across emails and blogs from fellow Christians telling me that Easter was originally a pagan festival and that Christians ought not to observe Easter any more. Once I called a Christian friend and said ‘Happy Easter’ and he said, ‘Oh, I don’t celebrate Easter because it was Emperor Constantine’s conspiracy that we celebrate Easter today, I don’t want to be a part of his conspiracy “. (of course I paraphrased that a little) I guess folks at Google did not want to take sides and left their logo unchanged.

I am stupefied by the contention within the Christian circles on whether Christians should celebrate Easter, after all the conspiracy theorists say that Easter was a pagan festival that got Christened for astute political reasons by Emperor Constantine. And among those Christian who celebrate Easter there is a contention on how they should greet, ‘Happy Easter’ or ‘The Lord is risen’.

The day before Easter, when I finished the purchase at Wal-Mart supercentre and paid the bill when the old Hispanic lady at the counter told me ‘Happy Easter to you’, I was overjoyed. The feeling of being overjoyed certainly wasn’t the joyful reminiscence of the Easter mood with all its festivities and the food. The reason for my joy was just that after a tiring day of shopping and running errands when out of the blue suddenly I heard ‘Happy Easter’, it gave me an opportunity to be ‘reminded’ of God.

Let me state that  at the Wal-Mart, it did not matter to me that 2000 years ago Easter was a pagan festival. It did not matter to me that many Christians thought it was wrong to wish ‘Happy Easter’. The point is that the lady’s Easter wish gave me an opportunity to ‘stop’, step back from my ‘shopping mood’ and ‘mediate’ on God. Likewise, the celebration of Easter whether it coincides with the lunar cycle of harvest or not, whether it was originally a pagan festival or not, gives to me an opportunity to celebrate the love of the risen Lord.

Personally, I think that the “Lord is risen” is a lot more meaningful than “Happy Easter”, but even saying the ‘Lord is risen’ can become another custom if we don’t realize the meaning of the truth that we utter – that it is the fact of the risen Lord which brings us together into fellowship with each other. It is true that sometimes, when we say the “Lord is risen” or “Happy Easter” we really d not feel it resonate with the deeper meditations of our heart and it appears to be just a  ritualistic greeting.

But it does not matter. I would rather have an Easter where get an opportunity to take a step back and mediate on what resurrection means to me and thereby get closer to God at the cost of saying ninety percentage of the time “Happy Easter” or “Lord is risen” without really feel the profundity of the utterance rather than not celebrate Easter at all not wish anyone, ‘Happy Easter’ or ‘Lord is risen’ and thereby just loose an opportunity to ‘stop’, ‘step back’ and ‘mediate’ on God.

In Houston, during Easter season, I have enjoyed my Christian fellowship at the St. John the Divine Episcopal Church. Last weekend, I was invited by an affectionate family to fellowship with them in their advanced celebration of Easter lunch as they were out of town for Easter. This weekend I was invited by another loving family to fellowship with them on Easter day and I enjoyed the delicious lunch and the long conversations that we had over the lunch. My mom was concerned that I may be having a lonely Easter season in Houston , “Oh, no”, I told her, “I am having one heaven of a time here”. But for the fact of the risen Lord and the celebration of Easter we may loose the opportunity for such wonderful Christian fellowship.

In today’s Easter service I was struck by the exuberance and zeal that exuded from the demeanor and the message of the Rector of the St. John the Divine Episcopal Church. When he started the message, I loved the way contrary to what he usually did, after ascending the pulpit, he allowed the congregation to stand for a couple of minutes as he ‘proclaimed’ the glory of the risen Lord before bidding the congregation to sit. After all we all stand when the national anthem of our country is sung, why not stand up when the glory of the risen Lord is ‘proclaimed’.

May the celebration of Easter that has continued on for well over millennia go on for many more as well.

May the glory of the risen Lord be proclaimed and celebrated by His Bride, the Church until He comes back for her.

May we wish each other ‘Happy Easter’ or ‘Lord is risen’ and truly mean it and mediate on its meaning. 

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

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