These days it seems to many of us “old-timers” that the flow is headed in the other direction. We are taking a Christian holiday and making it more palatable to non-Christians in a way that they get to celebrate without understanding any of the theology. Yet this holiday may truly be called the “Gospel Holiday” for in understanding what it is we celebrate we have the gospel message to share. Christian Easter is not based on simply celebrating the return of nature to life again after a long winter’s nap. The return we believe in is from a much deeper slumber. We are called to wake from our sin, from the death that comes as a consequence of our actions. The only way to bring spring, new life, into our hearts is through faith in the message of Easter.
The movie, The Passion of Christ, tells well the first part of the story, the suffering of Christ on our behalf. But it is in the second part of the story that we have our good news, our gospel. The climax of the story is on Easter morning when Christ rose from the grave, giving evidence to the message of new life. The gospel message is that though we are sinners we find forgiveness in the death of Christ for us, but we find new life in the resurrection of Christ from death. Easter is the time we can share with those around us why we celebrate this holiday. We don’t celebrate a chance for families to gather and hunt Easter eggs. We don’t pay honor to Easter bunnies announcing spring has sprung again. The purpose of Easter is to proclaim, “He is risen, he is risen indeed!”