This Sunday, Christians the world over will be celebrating Easter, remembering the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Others view Easter as a day for family, egg hunts, and a time for a big meal.
“I get toys,” exclaimed little Joseph when asked what Easter means to him.
“A time of reflection,” said Reggie Lofton. “It’s a time to search my actions, words of the past year to see if I have honored Christ in all I’ve done.”
“Easter is about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus,” says Donnie Martin, the preaching minister of Montwood Church of Christ.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and was crucified as the sacrificial lamb for all mankind. However, according to Christian theology, Jesus did not remain in the grave. On the third day, he was raised again.
According to Beto Holguin, Jesus is the focal point of Easter.
“It’s not bunnies,” says Beto, who is only nine. “It’s not eggs. It’s worship and praise.” His sister, Maria, echoes his comment.
“We place the Jesus at the middle of our activities,” Maria, who is sixteen, hopes one day to be a missionary. “It’s a time to reflect on this great gift he has given us. This great gift of life that will never end.”
After I spoke with Maria and Beto, I was approached by another individual who wanted to talk about Easter and Jesus.
Muhammad Naqvi, who is in El Paso visiting family, was excited to speak about Jesus.
“I was born to a Muslim family in Pakistan,” he said. “For us, as we grew, as we learned Quran, we learned that Isa, Jesus, was simply a prophet and nothing more. Within the pages of the Quran, we see Isa worked miracles.”
Muhammad says that when he came to America, twenty years ago, he began to meet people of differing faiths.
“My landlord, back in Houston, was Christian,” Muhammad said. “He would always be joyful; spirit filled I later learned. He was willing to answer my questions of Jesus Christ.”
Muhammad has very clear views on how one should celebrate Easter.
“It has become a commercial success, Easter has,” Muhammad says. “Greeting card companies, toy companies, confectioners, these make money hand over fist during this season. They are removing Christ from this holiday as they have Christmas. We must keep our eyes, our thoughts, our hearts on Jesus Christ, and not upon commercial gifts that do not offer life, mercy, or forgiveness.”
Muhammad has a point. Holidays, be they Jewish, Christian, or even Hindu, are being co-opted by big business.
Passover coincides with Easter this year. When I was looking up other articles about Passover I was bombarded by ads for Passover themed coffee cups, aprons, even a Passover can of Plagues!
The same was true for several of my searches for articles on Easter. Some of the top results were for Tulips, Easter cake pops, an Easter Bunny gift tower. Oddly enough, even one for customized Easter M&M’s.
Holidays are becoming far too commercial, as Muhammad said.
“I can remember,” says Ms. Ella, who says she will be celebrating her 90th birthday this Easter, “that we didn’t have all the greeting cards, all the pre-made baskets. My biggest thought was what hat I should wear to Easter service.”
Ms. Ella also said her, and her family would attend Passion Plays, which were all the rage back when she was younger.
As holidays become too commercial, we stand to lose sight of the meaning of the day.
Easter, for Christians, is a time to recall the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift that holds for them. Passover, for the Jewish people, is a time where we recall our redemption from slavery. Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists is a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
None of these holidays should be about how much money you spend.
One person I spoke to, that’s what Easter and Christmas are all about, spending.
“We make it to Mass,” said Oliva, who only wanted me to use her first name. “After mass, everyone in my family brings the biggest baskets to the kids. Easter is to make them happy. You make them happy by giving the baskets that are much bigger than the ones their school friends get.”
Missing the point, of Easter, I think.
As you celebrate Easter or Passover, take a moment to reflect on what the holiday means. Not the television shows and specials, not the baskets, or expensive gifts that some ad exec says is the “must have” of the season. No, don’t do that. Simply reflect on the meaning of the season, of the holiday.
I spoke with three people and asked them what Easter is, how it’s celebrated, and why it’s important to celebrate Easter. The Rev. Lin Lilley is the rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church; Clark Peters, a teaching elder of Park Hills Christian Church, and director of operations at KELP Christian Radio; Donnie Martin, the preaching minister of Montwood Church of Christ.
“Undoubtedly the most important celebration of the Christian year, along with Christmas,” says Rev. Lilley. “It’s all that leads up to the Passion, death and of course the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
“Easter is celebrated in many different ways. In the secular world, it is celebrated with the Easter Bunnies, and the Easter Egg hunts,” says Clark Peters. “In the Christian Church, it’s remembering that G-d raised Christ from the dead. That he was victorious over the grave.”
The best explanation I found for Easter comes from Donnie Martin.
“Easter is the most, in my view, the most significant holiday celebration that we have in the Church,” says Donnie. “Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And that event, I would argue, is the most important thing that has ever happened.”
If you are celebrating Easter this year, keep your mind on what the holiday is about. Don’t buy into the commercialism that surrounds the holiday, or the incessant drive to give gifts, or host egg hunts. Simply focus on the meaning of the holiday.
I do invite you to take a few moments and watch the video. Listen to Lin Lilley, Clark Peters, and Donnie Martin as they talk about Easter, what it is, and how to celebrate.
If you would like to attend any of the services mentioned in the video, here is that information. These are but a sampling of the services to attend throughout the city, check with your local church for their events this weekend.
St. Alban’s is located at 1810 Elm, near Five Points. Their Easter Service will be at 9:30 am, followed by a potluck lunch.
Park Hills Christian Church is at 5701 Alabama. Their service will be at 6:30 am.
Montwood Church of Christ is at 11845 Bob Mitchell Drive. The service at Montwood CofC is at 10:30 am.