This year, Easter falls on April Fools’ Day, which hasn't happened since 1956. I wonder if our church leaders will maintain their stoic nature on Christianity’s most Holy of days, initiate their sermon with an introductory joke, or walk out in a Peter cottontail costume? (There was a disciple named Peter, you know.) God created us all with a sense of humor and His is probably better than all of ours.
In any event, has Easter changed since 1956, has it lost any spiritual significance, or is it destined to be another religious, turned secular holiday?
In my opinion, Easter has changed significantly since I was a young girl. Childhood memories include a new dress and hair bows for church, while the boys sported their new clip-on ties and sometimes a sport-coat. Easter Sunday service meant arriving early to church, and sometimes going longer than normal - which was punishment to the 12 and under crowd that was eagerly awaiting the post service egg hunt. I remember lessons about the resurrection and children on stage singing to the delight of all met expectations to the over-flow of congregants. Our afternoon family gatherings included a feast from handed-down family recipes, capped off with homemade pie.
The simplicity of those past celebrations seems to be fewer, and often replaced with more lavish events. Today’s customs include helicopter egg drops at public parks, a photo with the Easter bunny at the local mall, and casual attire that has replaced what was once called your "Sunday Best." Family gatherings are more hurried and is it just me, or does there seem to be more store bought pies?
Regardless, Easter past feels different than Easter present. So what will Easter yet-to-come look like? I’m not sure about the traditions, but as far as the meaning of Easter, that uncertainty is resolved with 1 Peter 1:25 which says “but the word of the Lord endures forever...” and the word for Easter is found in Romans 4:25. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
Justification means to be declared or made righteous in the sight of God. Without the pardon of sin, we would forever be separated from God. An old hymn sums this up very well.
One Day! Author: J. Wilbur Chapman (1909)
"One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again"
"Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day"
No matter what changes, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He remains constant in a world that is always changing. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin and offered eternal life for all who believe in Him.
I am looking forward to my eternal life with Jesus in Heaven. Now, I wonder if Heaven will have April Fools’ jokes or store bought pie?!
This article was written by Sandra Hovan, an employee of First United, and her husband, Joseph Hovan.