Well, are you sick of Easter yet? No, I did not say “tired” of it. I said “sick” and meant it. When I was growing up, every Easter Sunday began with our getting up early, oftentimes before daylight, so we could go to a Community Easter Sunrise Service, regularly held on the high school football field, where all the churches in the community joined together in one united worship service celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But before that, my sisters and I were always awakened by our parents and encouraged in those pre-dawn moments when we were bleary-eyed and still half asleep, to search diligently all over the house for Easter baskets with our names on them.
Now I used to enjoy doing this because, from my way of thinking then, Easter was a great combination of both Christmas and Halloween. Two holidays all wrapped up in one! I got gifts which, though small and not as significant, were a surprise to me (like Christmas), and on most Easters, I normally got lots of candy (like Halloween)! But unlike Halloween, you did not have to go begging anyone for it! Invariably that Easter basket was filled with chocolate and other candies that I loved to eat, and that would make me very sick if I ate too much too fast! Usually, my parents made up some rules that regulated just how much candy I could eat at one time, and they strictly enforced those rules by keeping the candy practically under lock and key! (Well, maybe not, but from my perspective as a little kid it sure seemed that way!) And one of my goals at Easter time was always to figure out ways to eat more than I was allowed.
One of my friends shared with me the true story of one of his grandchildren whose mother had done just what my mother used to do. This grandson had received far too much candy to eat in one sitting so Mom had made the rule that at her disposal, he could eat “one piece at a time.” He was allowed to choose the piece, but only one. One evening after this rule was again explained, she sent him into the kitchen to get his piece, which enabled her to concentrate on doing something else in one of the other rooms in the house. You know how it is – she lost track of the time, and after a while, he came back into the room where Mom was, and proclaimed with a groan, “I’m full! I can’t eat it all!” She said to him, “How many pieces of candy did you eat?” He told her, “Only one, just like you said.”
Confident she would find candy wrappers all over the place and catch her son red-handed lying to her, she rushed back into the kitchen, and was, well, surprised. There was not a plethora of candy wrappers strewn all over the room. But there on the table was a large, lone chocolate Easter bunny, at least 10 inches tall, and I might add – “one piece” – but sitting there with one of his enormous ears bitten off! Her son had obeyed her stipulation of one piece. It was just that the piece he chose was 10 inches tall! It was way too much for him to eat in one sitting, but he was going to do his best to try!
Easter bunnies and chocolate candy, along with hot cross buns and ham and all the other traditions we may have and celebrate at this time of the year, may be fine, but there is one danger that they all have in common, particularly on this holiday. They can make us sick of the holiday itself! And when we get sick of something, we become reluctant to eat it or try it again!
But the significant truth about Easter is that it is, in reality, THE most important holiday of the year. Yes, even more than Christmas. The fact is – and hear me out, this is not a mistake – if it were not for Easter, there would be no Christmas!
Now don’t get caught up in the traditions of these respective holidays. I am aware that they both have pagan origins as the days to celebrate, but what I am referring to is that if it were not for the fact that out of His tremendous love and grace and mercy, God sent His Son Jesus to come to earth to die a cruel death on a rugged cross for your sins and mine, there would never have been the need for him to come at all. His birth would not have been necessary – hence, no Christmas! If it were not for Easter, there would be no Christmas!
But the greatest tragedy of all is that in both of these holidays, the great majority of people only see gifts and food and family and candy and the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. The tendency is to forget that very real reason for both of these holidays. Or, if not forgotten, that reason is only given – well, lip service, rather than the priority He deserves. Don’t miss this: God loves you, and He sent His Son to prove it! That’s the true story of Easter, and we can NEVER get too much of that!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected].