WHAT'S ALL THE CELEBRATING ABOUT?
The baseball season doesn't start till next week.
Of course I know of a couple of college basketball teams and their fans who are beside themselves with joy today. I love the NCAA tournament. In fact, it's about the only basketball I watch. Football and baseball are my great loves, and my wife deserves a little bit of my time once in a while, so it's not really fair of me to spend a lot of time watching a sport that I have a lot less appreciation for. But the tournament is awesome! Wall to wall basketball, in a win-or-go-home format. I love the emotion.
But this blog isn't about basketball. Shockingly enough, it isn't about baseball either. Although I could go on for days about my World Champion Royals.
No, this is about rabbits, eggs, and Jesus Christ.
I'm not even sure exactly which branch of science this falls under, but I've read a few books and I know rabbits don't lay eggs, nor did Jesus Christ hatch from one. So why are we even talking about them all in the same context? OK, that's a rhetorical question. We all know that today is Easter/Ishtar/Eostre/Astarte/Resurrection Sunday/Whatever. What are we doing this for? We claim to be honoring Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our salvation, but are we really honoring God by celebrating a Pagan holiday? Church goers know most of those terms refer to some sort of Paganism or another, and Jesus Christ didn't even rise on a Sunday.
I know that Jesus Christ rising from the dead was a big deal. In fact, it's the biggest deal in history. His dying on the cross for our sins, of course, was the whole point of His being born. But that was just theoretical, until He rose. His resurrection was the proof that He was the perfect sacrifice and now our sins can be forgiven because of His death.
But this whole spring ritual thing that we go through has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus or His resurrection. In fact, I'm convinced we are insulting God and what He did for us with all this carrying on about eggs and rabbits and assorted hogwash.
This year we say He rose on March 27th. Last year it was April 5th. Next year, it will be on April 16th. How can you even plan for a holiday when they move it around all the time? I've got problems with Christmas, too, but at least it's on the same day every year. Why can't they do that with the Spring holiday? (No, I'm not going through all those names again)
The obvious answer is that the holiday is tied to some celestial event. In this case, two of them: The vernal equinox and the full moon. The first ecumenical council, hosted by Constantine in the city of Nicaea (Nice) in AD 325 ruled unanimously that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. But, if the full moon occurred on a Sunday, thereby coinciding with the Passover festival, then Easter should be commemorated on the following Sunday so as to make sure that Easter and Passover would not be celebrated at the same time, even by accident. I should point out here that there were a number of churches who refused to even attend this conference and who would not, under any circumstances, deviate from what had been passed down to them from the Apostles. These people were branded as heretics, hunted down and killed.
So now we're stuck with this floating holiday that was put into place by people who were more concerned with not being Jewish than anything else. The more I learned about the details, the more it seemed to me that they were not as interested in having Jesus save them from anything as they were in saving the Name of Jesus from being associated with the Jews. If you're curious about the details of how we ended up with this mess, you can go to http://www.cogwriter.com/easter.htm. It's a very well written, detailed, long and boring article that explains where the name comes from, how it got into the Christian lexicon, and how virtually every aspect of the celebration is an attempt to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ while denying that there is any connection whatsoever between Jesus and those “depraved Jews.” Due to an incredible amount of unabashed antisemitism on the part of Constantine (“...in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. ...no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.”), the official Christian doctrine, enforced on pain of death, intentionally and maliciously, discounted the entire Word of God because the scriptures were Jewish.
Consider this: The early church grew to hate the Jews so much that they persecuted anybody that practiced anything that was perceived as being Jewish. Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, for crying out loud! The One they had been waiting for. While most of them didn't recognize this fact, there were an ever-growing number of believers working hard to get their fellow Jews to understand that.
Now, here comes Constantine and subsequent church leaders that hated the Jews and persecuted them mercilessly... IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. So now, to Jews the name of Christ, who they didn't really believe in anyway, becomes synonymous with hate, persecution and death. The Jews have had their Messiah STOLEN from them by people claiming Him as their Savior; who took His life, death and resurrection – the greatest event in the history of mankind – and turned it into a children's festival. I'm not saying we should be adhering to Mosaic Law, but the church has developed a law of its own that is a slap in the face of the God we claim to be worshiping. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to commemorate His resurrection. Yet we do, with pagan symbols, ham, and the name of a pagan god to boot. God threw the Jews out of Jerusalem because of their worship of other Gods. Just because you put the name of Jesus on it, doesn't make it God ordained....and we don't even do that. WE STILL CALL IT EASTER!
We don't even have the basics down. We've got Him dying on a Friday and, “after three days and three nights”, rising from the dead on a Sunday morning. I didn't take calculus, or logarithms, or any of the other higher math for geniuses, so I may be missing something. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how you can get three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.
I did a lot of research to try to figure that one out, and as it turns out, it seems He was crucified on a Wednesday. It was the day before Passover, which apparently landed on a Thursday that year. Not the day before Shabbat (Saturday). Then you give Him three days and three nights (that would be 72 hours), and He rises, not at sunrise on Sunday morning (when the people showed up before dawn on Sunday morning, he was already risen), but at sundown on Saturday night. Now I admit that I had always believed Jesus rose on Sunday. Even after I got the story on what day He was actually crucified, I never thought to do the math. Now I'm thinking that there is not a single detail of this annual fiasco that can be found in the Bible.
All the research I did for this had lots of references, both from the Bible and from other sources. I didn't bother to include those in my little rant here because I figured if it actually made a difference to anyone reading this, it would be pretty easy to find the stuff yourself. I did provide a link to get you started. But while this whole thing weighs heavy on my heart, I believe a majority of Christians actually know this stuff. They just don't care. Anytime I bring this up to somebody in church, they say that traditions are important. Something about comfort and connections to the past. Let's not forget the chance for the family to get together and fellowship. A lot of people tell me they just do it for the children. It's so much fun for them.
OK, now I'm a curmudgeon. Sucking all the joy out of Spring. But for the sake of fun, aren't we teaching the children to grow up practicing religions that are contrary to what we claim to believe? I actually know a few practicing Pagans, and they are laughing their butts off at us. They know we are celebrating their holidays with them. How can we convince them that we have a better way when we are actually practicing religion their way?
So what to do? I don't know. What I like to do is get a leg of lamb and eat it at Passover, which happens to fall on April 22nd this year at sundown. (Yes, it moves around a lot, too. But that's because the the Gregorian calendar we use isn't in sync with the Jewish calendar. It's fixed on the 14th of Nisan on the Jewish calendar.) I try to get close to Passover. It usually ends up being on the closest weekend to the Passover so my family has a chance to get together. It also gives me a chance to eat lamb. I don't go through the whole Passover feast thing because I wasn't raised Jewish and I would look really stupid. But I love mutton, and it's pretty expensive, so I kind of need an excuse. I eat plenty of pork all through the year (BACON!), so it's not like I've got a thing about clean vs. unclean meat. But it does seem a little incongruous to celebrate Jesus Christ by making it a point to eat something He would never have eaten. The children? Why don't we take them fishing. Jesus liked fish, and the kids have a great time...if you can keep them from falling in the water. My kids are grown now, way past the age for Easter egg hunts. But you never outgrow fishing.
I'm not going to say that any of this is going to keep anybody out of Heaven. I'm certainly in no position to judge. I get as excited about spring as anybody, and the things that get me excited , as I mentioned at the top of this diatribe, have little to do with worshiping God. Like all Christians, I cling to the hope that Christ, knowing how stupid, selfish and spiritually clumsy I am, died for me anyway. But what I tell my kids is: if you see any little round things in the yard left by a rabbit, DON'T EAT IT! Even if it does look like chocolate.