In an ironic turn of events, cool moms around the blogosphere are protesting the commercialization of Easter with a new line of T-shirts, available for purchase at a website near you.
For $20, your t-shirt can proclaim to your Sunday morning church crowd, “I’d rather support an orphan!”, leaving no one in doubt of your heart for the less fortunate of the world, and maybe helping to inspire a bit of holy conviction in the heart of the mom who brought her kids to church dressed like fancy little cupcakes.
Easter should be all about JESUS and not at all about the Easter Bunny. We shouldn’t make the most important church service of the Christian year into a fashion parade; our children shouldn’t look for the Reason for the Season inside of a plastic egg. It’s about an empty tomb, not empty wallets; a risen Savior, not a Retail Season.
I think we can all agree on that.
And maybe at your church, or in your family, your orphan care shirts are really different than the ones I’m describing, and wearing them is a reverent and God-glorifying thing to do. I’m not here to lay down a new law, but to present a middle road between commercialized excess and Spartan protest. I think it’s the road most of us are already walking, and I would like to represent our voice in the blog world.
Easter Sunday is the most important day of the Christian year, because without the Resurrection, every other part of our faith is rubbish. Without the Resurrection, our suffering is meaningless, the dead are lost to us forever, and the life of Jesus is just an example that we should but can’t follow.
So Easter is an occasion for our greatest rejoicing. In the words of Paul: “For Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast!” So how do we do this in a way that is consistent with the context of I Corinthians 5 and the example of Jesus himself?
1. Prepare your hearts ahead of time.
The season of Lent is an opportunity for focused spiritual discipline, for repentance of sin, for extra meditation on the life of Christ. Even if you don’t observe the whole 40 days of Lent, consider special readings for Holy Week to focus on the Passion story. Allow yourself to feel the weight of your own sin and the enormity of Christ’s atoning work on the cross.
Visual symbols can be helpful, especially with children, which is why I love the traditions we’ve adopted of planting seeds, of fasting, of extinguishing candles. We’ve read the story of Jesus (“the one where he is dead”) so many times that I can almost recite it. Today (Wednesday), we attended a local Easter pageant that brought tears to my eyes as I watched the life of Christ played out before my eyes.
I’m so ready for a celebration. And I’m not worried that I’ll accidentally start to think that Sunday is all about the chocolate, or the bread, although I plan to enjoy both of those things! Because when you’ve allowed your heart to feel the weight of an eternal problem, you’re in no danger of feeling satisfied by shallow pleasures. Nothing less than a risen Jesus is strong enough medicine.
2. Celebrate Sunday!
When my kids think over the year, I want Easter to be their favorite day. So we make it a day of celebration! There’s a lot of Jesus, for sure: we’ll attend church together, play songs of the Resurrection at top volume, make empty-tomb crescent rolls, light all our candles, and read the Easter story from the Bible.
But everything doesn’t need a cross on it to be an appropriate activity for this day. We will get together with extended family for a delicious meal (no spiritual symbolism required), the kids will hunt for plastic eggs, I’ll put a wind-up chick on each plate at breakfast, we’ll dye eggs, everyone will eat too many jelly beans and chocolate candies.
And, we’ll wear new clothes. Buying a special new dress or shirt is a way to emphasize the importance of this day. We dress up in special clothes for weddings, for birthdays, for church every other week, so why not for Easter? In the context of a larger Christ-centered celebration, an Easter dress says, “I want to honor the importance of this day with a special outfit.” It doesn’t have to be expensive or so fancy it can never be worn again.
On Monday, we’ll return to what is hopefully our “normal” life of picking up our cross, giving to the poor, mortifying sin, and serving each other. But this Sunday, He is Risen! Let’s keep the feast.