Monday, 13 April 2015

Easter Thoughts and Rants

The current edition of my local Parkhill newspaper, The Gazette, has nicely juxtaposed the conflicting approaches to Easter that exists in our culture.  Although the culture in and around Parkhill is quite traditional in many ways there is a conflicted and conflicting approach to  how Good Friday should be celebrated.  The front page had a large colour picture of the Procession of the Cross celebrated in a joint service of Parkhill United Church and St. James Anglican Church.   The tradition of a joint service was started about ten years ago when I was the rector of St. James (prior to my retirement) along with the United Church minister, Rev. Doug Wright, who is still serving that church.  The service begins at one church and midway a large wooden cross is processed to the other church where the service concludes. 

This is a service that is appreciated by members of both congregations.  In past years we used an adaption of the Stations of the Cross at various points between the two churches.  This is very appropriate for the solemn occasion marking the crucifixion of the founder of our faith; all well and good.  However, the interior of the paper reveals a competing celebration.  The caption over a picture of a group of little children and supervising adults read, “Chocolate galore as Parkhill youngsters enjoy Easter Egg Hunt”.  Of course tradition of the Easter Egg Hunt has been long established in Canada and elsewhere.  The Easter bunny leaving eggs has been a part of Easter celebrations which with its symbol of new life and breaking the Lenten fast and other symbolic aspects tied to Easter.   Some of these include the Eastern Orthodox tradition of abstaining from eggs during Lents and there was (according to Wikipedia) an ancient belief that the hare was a hermaphrodite and “The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child”.  I could go on but the point is that The Easter Egg Hunt is a well-established Christian tradition. 

Now the problem with the ‘Easter’ Egg Hunt in Parkhill is that it occurs (I won’t say celebrated) on the morning of Good Friday.  This of course is completely in opposition to the meaning of Good Friday when Christians celebrate the death of Jesus Christ and Easter Sunday when the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is Celebrated and where the symbol of new life belongs.  Now only that but with Good Friday services being celebrated the same time as the Easter Egg Hunt it means that families must choose between the celebration and the activity.  The secularization of Christian symbols is well established with the materialistic excesses of ‘Christmas’ gift frenzy so I should not be surprized that secular ‘Easter’ celebrations occur.  However, it might be considerate on the part of the organizers at least to celebrate it at a time which doesn’t conflict with the traditional Christian celebration.  The Gazette notes that a neighboring community holds its Easter Egg Hunt on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I believe that it would be a good idea if Christianity separated the celebration of Christmas from the secular in some more specific ways.  This obviously applied to Easter as well.  Just a reminder of how secular and Christian Easter differs from secular Easter, we are still celebrating Easter as we Christians are in the season of Easter which celebrates the period in which Jesus Christ was on earth following his Resurrection.  I will end with the Easter acclamation which is used during the Easter Season:

Celebrant:      The Lord is risen!

People:           The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Celebrant:      May his grace and peace be with you.

People:          May he fill our hearts with joy.

New life indeed!  Alleluia! 





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