While driving through Illinois, a roadside sign made me get off the highway and circle around again just to be sure I saw what I thought I saw: “Yummy Jesus Goodness!” printed in huge red letters. A very sweet, jolly clone of Mrs. Santa Claus sat behind a trestle table selling homemade chocolates and cream candies — raspberry truffle crown-of-thorns, white chocolate crucifixes, dark chocolate cross nails, and a fully decorated ginger-bread tomb, with a roll-away cookie stone and maple sugar angel. I want to be very careful not to make fun — this woman was very proud of her creations, but it still felt very surreal.
This is just one more incident that makes me absolutely despair at what is happening to Easter. The commercialization that took over Christmas is now overwhelming Easter. Chicks and bunnies are bad enough, but now there are plastic Easter eggs with Gummi Jesus’ candies inside, crucifixion lollipops, and my personal favorites, the hollow milk chocolate Jesus (or the peanut butter creme filled Jesus). Of course, you can buy a crucified Easter bunny figurine or the Sesame Street Last supper T-shirt, if you’re not into candy.
I’ve been told that I am turning into an old fogey, that I need to lighten up, that I’m losing my sense of humor… all this may be true, but come on! It’s Easter. It’s about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yeah, I know it originally had to compete with pagan earth religions to celebrate the return of spring, but enough already. The church has to fight to retain its connection to Christmas as it is, now we’re losing Easter. What’s next? Pentecost? (Would that the church made a bigger deal of Pentecost…)
What is it about our religious observations that make feel people the need to spice them up? The celebration of our Lord’s birth, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church ought to be reason enough to have a party, but the gifts and food and drink and candy and toys and games and lights and music and videos and noisemakers and all the rest end up becoming the focus of all our attention. I know of one church that is holding an Easter egg hunt for children during their Sunday morning worship services. (Jesus has risen, but don’t worry — you go play, he’ll be here when you get back.)
I’m all for a good time, and I really don’t object to all the fun and games we attach to our holidays — except when they take over and obscure the reason we celebrate in the first place. Bunnies and chickies are cute, but they’re really not what this is all about.
We are a people who possess one of the best, most fantastic, most incredible and wonderful stories of all time. The birth narratives of the Christmas story, the death and resurrection story of Good Friday and Easter — these are amazing tales in their own right. On Easter Sunday, we have the rare opportunity to tell our story to many people we don’t see the rest of the year. We have the chance to remind people that before there were marshmallow chiks and jelly beans and chocolate bunnies to bite the ears off, God’s power was manifest in one of the greatest miracles of all time, forever changing our world.
Categories: Religion in the U.S.