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On Sunday we will celebrate Easter, one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar, surpassed in importance, in the world’s view, only by Christmas.
To argue that one holiday – Christmas or Easter – is more significant than the other is a little like the question of the chicken or the egg. Without the Birth – Christmas – there would have been no opportunity for the Resurrection – Easter. However, without the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Savior, the birth would have been meaningless. Just another child born into the world.
So, to separate the two major events of the Christian world – to declare one more important than the other – is to minimize both. They can’t be separated. They are both part of a divine plan to redeem mankind that had become tainted with sin.
It’s been said that Easter is just one day but Christmas is a season. We have made it that way in the commercial world. But, in fact, just the opposite is true.
We spend days, weeks, perhaps months, preparing for Christmas Day. The parties, the dinners, the programs, the shopping. Christmas music is all we hear from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, then it’s over. No more carols, no more Jingle Bells for 11 months.
The event of Easter, the process of Passion Week, began last Sunday with Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He didn’t ride a horse, the symbol of a king going to war. He rode a donkey, the symbol of a peaceful entry, according to history.
The events of the week led to the agonizing prayer of surrender in Gethsemane, the mock trial in a kangaroo court, the brutal crucifixion on what we observe as Good Friday, the burial, and finally the glorious resurrection!
Easter is a process. It’s not one day, it’s a series of events.
If you haven’t read the Easter story as recorded in the New Testament, I recommend you do so. If you don’t know the Bible story, you don’t know why we have Easter.
A new outfit of clothing, chocolate bunnies, baby chicks and eggs are part of Easter just like Santa Claus is Christmas. Neither has anything at all to do with the true meaning of the holiday, yet they are embedded in our minds; they are part of the culture, and that’s just fine with me as long as we also know the real reason why we celebrate these most important holidays.
In the most powerful and most envied country of the world – the country that was established to provide a people with independence and freedom to worship as they choose, some would have us replace Christmas with a “Winter Holiday” and Good Friday with a “Spring Break.”
Perhaps some of our policymakers need to be reminded that the Constitution guarantees us freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.
The Ava Area Ministerial Alliance will sponsor its annual Good Friday community worship service this Friday night at 7 o’clock at the Ava Assembly of God Church.
And on Sunday morning, church doors all across America will stand wide open, welcoming all – including (and especially) those who haven’t attended since last Easter.
Please. Be a part of the crowd.