By WILLIAM J. KELLY
What is Easter? It is not a spring holiday although this designation has become part of it. It is not a day for you and your children to eat much easter candy and colored eggs although that has become part of it. The Easter Bunny is everywhere although that is not part of it. Easter bonnets, new clothes, corsages and flowers are nice although they are not part of it.
What is Easter really about? Easter is about the “Risen Christ,” the Messiah, the Savior; the person the Jews waited for centuries to come and then refused to accept Him. Those people who accepted Christ were eventually called Christians. There is evidence that early followers of Christ celebrated the resurrection of Jesus in the first century. It had been called Resurrection Day. About the middle of the second century, attempts began to set a date for Easter.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ took upon Himself all the sins of the world and thus became sin and it was necessary to atone for those sins by dying according to the scriptures. Thus the crucifixion on Good Friday of the man who had no sin but who died to atone for the sins of the world to enable all men (men and women) to attain salvation.
The date of Easter Sunday varies each year. The Gregorian calender sets the dates of Easter from March 22nd to April 25th each year. The date each year is determined to be the first Sunday following the first full moon after the March equinox. Thus the various dates. This year the date has been set for March 31st, the date was also March 31st in the year 2008. Preceding Easter Sunday is the 40 days of Lenten period of prayer, fasting and repentance, culminating in holy weeks Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. In my home my three brothers and I had for our penance given up candy and cookies for lent so we were really looking forward to Easter Sunday and our Easter baskets full of chocolate goodies. It was tough to do but this discipline training served us all well in our teen and adult life.
On Easter Sunday all Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is the foundation of the Christian faith. We have meditated on this gift from God for 40 days, also this historical event, the passion of Christ. Having repented of our sins we can now celebrate, we have been saved. We still need to atone for our sins but we have been given eternal life after death.
In the USA, and other places in the world, we add to the joy of being saved a few symbols of our joy. We color Easter eggs to represent the resurrection of Jesus, the empty tomb, the Easter bunny in his nest to lay the eggs (we know bunnies can not lay eggs but this is a symbol of fertility) which has been traced to the 1500s. We have been renewed and cleansed so we buy new clothes to wear on Easter Sunday to symbolize our renewal.
Many churches have sunrise services on Easter Sunday, the time when the women first found the empty tomb. Some person wears an Easter bunny costume and distributes the colored eggs for the children to find. Much fun, and a lot of messes, is part of the kids coloring hard boiled eggs for their parents and relatives. None of these things are biblical but just our human way of adding joy to the celebration as we do on many secular holidays.
I wish everyone an enjoyable and happy Easter season. Peace!
William J. Kelly is a Weatherford resident.