Why Easter and Christmas matter. March 31, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Christmas, Easter
Our friend Ben was horrified to read an ad in yesterday’s local paper proudly trumpeting services being held at a “traditional” Christian church that celebrated neither of those “pagan” holidays, Christmas or Easter. To dismiss the two greatest holidays of the Christian church and call yourself Christian is akin to ripping out the engines of cars and calling yourself a mechanic.
I can certainly understand churches that want to remove the commercial and frivolous trappings that have accreted on the two holidays over the years—Santa Claus, the focus on presents and baskets of candy, the Easter bunny. As fun as these are, they tend to reduce the significance of these holy days to the level of the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day and trick-or-treating on Hallowe’en.
But commercialism aside, there are essential reasons to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and some of their oldest symbols: the evergreen tree at Christmas, symbol of eternal life, the egg at Easter, symbolizing rebirth. If various churches choose to frown on the celebrations, the carols, the focus on food and good fellowship and partying that accompany these holidays, so be it. But to deny the holiness of the days themselves is to deny why Christianity is, to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
After all, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism to my knowledge all venerate Jesus as an enlightened prophet. Where they differ from Christians is in acknowledging Him as the Son of God. It sounds like this so-called “traditionilist church” in the paper is doing the same. Which is perfectly fine, but it isn’t Christian.
All of which ultimately led our friend Ben to a problem I have, and have always had, with genuinely traditional Christian interpretations of the significance of the life and events in the life of Jesus. Each year, we are given the season of Advent, of joyous anticipation, and Lent, of renunciation and sacrifice, to prepare for these great holy days of Christ’s birth and His death and resurrection. Anticipation builds, we are encouraged to explore and go deeper into our faith, and then, at last, the miracle happens: Jesus is born. Jesus is reborn from the dead.
To me, by far the greater miracle is that God Creator, who after all had the entire universe in His keeping, would so love the world that He would send His only-begotten Son to be born in this world in human guise and try to save it. To save us. To care about what happened to us. This is so unprecedented, so inconceivable, that it surely must be the greatest miracle of all. This is what Advent and Christmas celebrate.
That Jesus died for us and rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to sit beside His Father is also a miracle. But to me, that God should have condescended to send His Son to begin with is the great miracle, the farthest reach. What a humbling thought!
This blessed Easter, let us rejoice and give thanks on both accounts: That Jesus was born, and that He went to the Cross for us. And if you want to go on an egg hunt or eat some Easter candy, that’s okay with our friend Ben!