A little Easter meditation

eI am increasingly aware of just how detailed was my theology growing up, but as for Easter, we did not celebrate it.

Well, we celebrated it, but as with Christmas, we celebrated only the secular side of the holiday. We colored eggs, we shared Easter baskets, but we never attached those pagan rituals to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

I’m not sure why. We didn’t celebrate Christmas, either, because it wasn’t suggested that we do so in teh Bible, and we disagreed with the timing of the holiday, as well. Unlike the first Christmas – which most likely did not occur in December — our modern-day Easter mimics a similar calendar as the first one did — right around Passover, the holiday that brought Jesus to Jerusalem in the first place.

But O.K.

Instead, baptized members of the church of Christ celebrate the last portion of Jesus’ earthly life every Sunday, with communion, but it was a point of pride (at least in my own church) that we didn’t do anything different on Easter. It was like every other Sunday. One year, however, a song leader led “He Arose” on Easter, and we all sang it to be polite, but I remember feeling a little uncomfortable about it.

I’m digressing. It was very much a part of our canon — a word we never used — to believe in the actual, historic Jesus, and the details of his life, such as we have, as laid out in the Christian scriptures. That meant there was  a physical man named Jesus, and he grew up and was baptized by his cousin (I’m hitting the highlights here, but then, so does the Bible) and he preached and performed real, live miracles, and he gained the unwelcome attention of the authorities, was tried in a kangaroo court, and tortured on a cross until he died.

Three days later (though he was said to have been crucified on a Friday, and if he rose on a Sunday that’s technically two days, but let’s not quibble), he rose from his borrowed grave, appeared to some of his disciples, and then went to heaven.

What I’m saying, in too many words, is that a belief in the actual events of the end of Jesus’ life was considered, as Justjss says, a cornerstone of our faith.

I know plenty of believers who identify as Christian, but don’t embrace the crucifixion story as fact. I’ve thought about this, and even if I didn’t embrace it, I don’t think that would be a deal-breaker for me. But I wonder, in all the colors we represent, do you need to believe the event actually occurred, and not as a metaphor but an actual fact? Or can you believe there was an important man named Jesus, without, say, the virgin birth or the amazing back-from-the-grave story? Is the story every bit as important to you?

I actually don’t know the answer and I’m fairly comfortable with that. I welcome your thoughts, though.

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23 responses to “A little Easter meditation

  1. My answer would be YES.

    When I think of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the crucifixion, I just cry. How horrible for him to go through that and how horrible for everyone who loved him to see that and lose someone so full of love. How horrible for them to live with not trying to save him because they would likely face a similar fate.

    Although I can’t truthfully embrace the physical resurrection, I am glad that all that Jesus taught wasn’t lost. So, on Easter, I think of that and I think of living out the goodness that he taught as best as I can. I’d rather remember him in life so that is a resurrection of a different sort I guess.

    I don’t buy into the virgin birth either, any more than I buy into Sarah having a baby at 80 (do I have that right). Those details don’t detract from the significance of Jesus’ life and his radical ideas of loving everyone for me. He broke down social barriers for the time. 2000 years later, we still have much to do to get to the world that I imagine he envisioned.

    • I was taught it was 90, but what’s 10 years between here and there when it comes to bearing children? Good Lord, I can’t imagine what we’d do now if a woman that old (whatever the precise age) got pregnant. Put her on “Jerry Springer?” I think I buy into this more because of the literalistic upbringing I had — you take this stuff straight. But yeah, it doesn’t make sense from here.

  2. I tend to think that if you take away the “magic,” you’re left with a piece of literature that is on a par with a number of other ancient works.

    And not a religion.

    • I one time in Sunday school called Jesus’ turning water into wine a “party trick,” and got in BIG trouble. But I feel ya.

  3. Maybe the religion doesn’t have to be justified by the magic. Maybe it is just a challenge for us to be a better self. Maybe Jesus is the ultimate perfection of love and that’s all we need….a goal to be more like that.
    Why? Not because we go to heaven, but it leads to a more fullfilling life while we’re here and alive.

    • Maybe it’s as “Jesus Christ Superstar” said: Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication. Without the magic, what? Word of mouth? That would have taken forever.

  4. I have to add that there is that spiritual component for me, too. That there is a spirit that can be at peace and is connected to something bigger that extends beyond the life of the body. Am I getting too philosophical? :)

    • Jac you’re perfect and if you don’t know that by now, would a free doughnut thrown into your front yard help?
      (Hey! I just found a ritual for our new church!)

      • Susan since you’re a doughnut maven, i have to ask, and i’m sorry it’s off-topic: do you know Baker Boy in Uxbridge’s doughnuts and if so what do you think?

        • I am, in fact, a doughnut maven but obviously not as well-versed as I think I am. I do not know Baker Boy, but should I? For about an hour, my family owned a doughnut shop in Webb City, Mo., and I developed my love then. But tell me about Baker Boy.

  5. Not too philosophical for me, yet … :-)

    But, for me, there are lots of good examples for being a better self … and I feel pretty connected despite not having a clue as to what happens after I die. My stock reply on that is that no matter what happens, if anything, I expect I’ll be the least surprised person around.

    • I believe you’re right about that, that you won’t be surprised. But wouldn’t it be cool if you were surprised? Like it’s something way cool?

  6. I didn’t say I wouldn’t be surprised. I said I expect I’ll be less surprised than everyone else …

    On account of my lack of a preconceived notion.

    I admit, I would be agog, agog I tell you, if anyone gets there, looks around and says, “Yep. We sure called it. My room is four levels up, third cloud on the left.”

  7. I love it! Sarah on Springer!

    If you’re going to throw a doughnut in my yard, could you put it in one of those bright pink plastic Easter eggs?

    • ‘Twould take a big egg. I’ll see if I can find one. I’m informed today that I need to supply the spiral cut, glazed ham. Who knew?

  8. You’ve got a big job! I was asked to bring the fruit salad. Got off easy this year!

  9. Remember L’Eggs? Those eggs might even hold TWO donuts.

  10. Paul talks about the resurrection!!!

    1 Corinthians 15
    1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
    3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

    12Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
    20But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 32b…If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” ◙

    Would the apostles suffer persecution and violent deaths to perpetuate a fraud? The headings in the Holman Standard translation [found in chapter 15] say it all: Resurrection
    Essential to the Gospel; Resurrection Essential to the Faith; Christ’s Resurrection Guarantees Our’s

  11. “Can you believe there was an important man named Jesus, without, say, the virgin birth or the amazing back-from-the-grave story?”

    Heck, no! Nor would I want to. In the same way I want my President to be smarter than I am, I want my Savior to be more than a mere mortal. And I believe Jesus WAS truly the Son of God. If you don’t believe that, that’s the deal-breaker of all deal-breakers. I’m speaking for myself, natch, but there are a gazillion people who would back me up on this.

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