Easter is almost upon us and it’s made the main headlines in the News! It was reported that the Church of England is embroiled in a row with Cadbury and the National Trust after it was claimed the firms removed references to Christian holiday Easter in marketing for their annual egg hunt. The firms have been accused of airbrushing religious connotations out of the Easter event. Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, accused the chocolate giant of ‘spitting on the grave’ of its religious founder by removing references to Christianity’s most sacred festival. Even Prime Minister Theresa May stepped into the religious row, claiming a decision to drop the word Easter from a Cadbury and National Trust egg hunt would be ‘absolutely ridiculous’.
Oh dear. Is this what it’s all about? Egg hunts? Really? Or is it about painting eggs or simply enjoying another long weekend? What is Easter?
We can best understand Easter by seeing what God has to say about it. After all, it was His greatest act of love that prompts this annual celebration: The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Looking at an acronym for the word “Easter” will give us insight into its meaning.
E – Everlasting life. That’s the foundation of our celebration. In one of the most well-known Bible verses, we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
A – Assurance. In a long heart-to-heart session with His followers shortly before His death, Jesus assured them (and us) “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)
S – Salvation. Before Jesus made his physical appearance on earth, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, announcing Christ’s arrival. He said: “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
T – The Gift. Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that we are all sinners, deserving death. But we praise God that “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
E – Enemies. That’s what we were when Christ died for us. Because Jesus died, we are offered reconciliation. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)
R – Resurrection. To a woman who was grieving the death of her brother, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)
Go on an egg hunt, paint the eggs, enjoy the long weekend, but always remember God’s greatest act of love, and let the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection be the centre of your celebration. That’s what Easter is all about!
Your friend and Pastor
Rev Colin MacLeod