Pastor Balmer’s Bulletin: Easter Is Not for Springtime, but All Time
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
-1 Corinthians 15:16-19 (NIV 2011)
When I was studying abroad in Brazil, one of the strangest things to me was Christmas. We sang carols (in Portuguese) at the church I attended. The mall even had Santa Claus. But everything seemed out of place. After all, it was Summer! And very, very hot. So many of the metaphors and cultural things I associated with celebrating Jesus’ birth (the cold, hot chocolate, one horse-sleighs the snow, the darkness into which the light came) did not make sense in the southern hemisphere.
The same might be true for Easter. New life is like Spring, isn’t it? Resurrection, empty tombs, we pair with easter egg hunts on new green lawns, and bright pastel clothes that could easily double as an outfit warn to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs! But if we mix up our cultural symbols with the story of the resurrection, we might miss the point.
I can tell you, hot Christmases and the celebrating Resurrection in the Autumn time does not mean Christmas and Easter mean anything less to the Christians in Brazil.
If we take all the symbols and cultural celebrations away, does Easter retain its power for us? If Easter is all fanfare, then when we cannot quite have the same Easter celebration, we will end up disappointed. But if Easter is about God undoing death in Jesus Christ, then nothing can take that away.
Tish Harrison Warren wrote this a year ago:
Believers and skeptics alike often approach the Christian story as if its chief value is personal, subjective, and self-expressive. We come to faith primarily for how it comforts us or helps us cope or lends a sense of belonging. However subtly, we reduce the Resurrection to a symbol or a metaphor. Easter is merely an inspirational tradition, a celebration of rebirth and new life that calls us to the best version of ourselves and helps give meaning to our lives.”
But that sentimentality cannot be what Easter is about! It’s no mere metaphor. It is not some inspiring story to motivate us. It is the undoing of death. Warren continues:
“The Resurrection is the only evidence that love triumphs over death, weakness prevails over strength, and beauty outlives ashes. If Jesus is risen in actual history, with all the palpability of flesh, fingers, bone, and blood, there is hope that our mourning will be comforted and that death will not have the final word.”
We are in a transition period. Things are looking up. Perhaps we can return soon to a more normal time. But this Easter is no less Easter because things are not quite what we hope they will be. Easter is more than the fanfare and symbols and celebrations, more than pastel colors and plastic easter eggs for sure. It is our great hope. It is our only hope.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!