Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Forget Easter

Each year we are built up by the thought of Easter and a special celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is always an exciting time.  But I want us to forget about Easter.  Let me explain.

Easter is named after a pagan goddess.  It was a pagan holiday in various countries centered around new life and spring renewal.  Bunnies were associated with fertility and eggs were part of their gifts to good children.  Except for the stretch of association with new life, there is nothing sacred about Easter.

But we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week.  And the date for this celebration was established in 325 AD.  Here is the history:

Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, the Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine. It issued the Easter Rule which states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. However, a caveat must be introduced here. The "full moon" in the rule is the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation, where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon. It does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.

The thing we celebrate is associated with the Jewish festival of First Fruits.  You can read about it in Leviticus 23.  Paul connects the dots for us in 1 Corinthians 15:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 

So Christ is our firstfruits.  When He comes He will bring with Him those who have died before us.  Then we who are alive when He comes will join them and we will live with Him forever.

That is why I don't really care about identifying with Easter.  But I do celebrate and lift up the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on firstfruits according to the festivals God has given. 

And if God fulfilled this part of His plan so completely, He will fulfill the rest of them the same.  Now that is something to get excited about.

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