Easter is a message of Love and Hope

greyscale photo of group of people carrying crucifix
Photo by Alem Sánchez on Pexels.com

 

Question: “What is Easter Monday?”

Answer: Easter Monday, also known as Bright Monday, Renewal Monday, Wet Monday, and Dyngus Day, is the Monday immediately after Easter Sunday. It is observed by many Christian groups, but primarily by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. It marks the beginning of Easter Week (Roman Catholic) / Bright Week (Eastern Orthodox).

Different cultures observe Easter Monday very differently. For some, Easter Monday is a solemn remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection marked by an outdoor procession. For others, there are Easter egg-rolling competitions. For still others, siblings and/or spouses wake each other up by pouring buckets of water on each other (hence the name “Wet Monday”). And others celebrate with a large gathering and a polka festival (Dingus Day).

Some of these observances have more Christian symbolism in them than others, but none of them are explicitly biblical. The Bible does not say anything about what happened on Easter Monday, the day after Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible does not instruct followers of Jesus Christ to observe Easter Monday, so there is no obligation to celebrate it. As with many holidays, there is nothing wrong with observing some cultural traditions, but it is important to not allow traditions to detract from the message of the gospel.

  • GotQuestions.org

 

 

Easter in Lockdown

 

During this pandemic, the Easter message couldn’t come sooner. I’ve been studying the Bible on and off over the past two years now. I’ve spent some time attending a local pentecostal church to get a taste of the christian culture I never grew up with and to help provide me some context and fruitful conversation. Although since I got my current job I have found myself working insane hours and I never make time for church anymore. But I don’t know how that I’m still totally sold on church itself.

I have been enjoying learning about the Bible and working on my relationship with God but church is religion and religion is pretty tribal. And this is also something I struggle to fully understand. The fine boundaries around what is a rich, supportive culture and what is toxic tribalism. The goal posts seem to shift with every person you speak to. But what keeps me coming back to my church is that everyone seems to be on the same page that religion itself can be a distraction when your personal relationship with God ought to be the focal point to your Bible studies.  

I would say that I am on a journey of rediscovery. Rediscovering truth and meaning in ancient wisdom. And though I have so much more to learn before I can really speak with any semblance of authority of the Bible but occasionally I can’t help but feel compared to share my findings as I go along. I may not even really have it right but I believe that when something really genuinely engages you that is a sign that you are exactly at the right place at the right time. And I don’t believe in fate but I do believe that there is a design to this world and where there is a design there is a designer.

I do believe that designer is God and we do have some sort of intrinsic linear relationship with him. I believe there is a greater destiny to this world and we all play a part in it. Our actions and even our inaction has consequences. Those consequences either tilt us closer to or further away from hell. So therefore I believe we should all at least act as though God exists. I believe doing so will improve our lives, improve our families and our communities. And that will tilt the world away from hell.

This is to say that easter seems to be one of those times of the year I’ve felt the need to share my thoughts and feelings. I was compelled to write something last Easter and I find myself compelled to write something this Easter. Unless I’m mistaken there actually isn’t any discussion over Easter as a holiday in the bible. Easter became a Christian construction to celebrate the massive event that was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It marked a turning point in history in culture and a value system that would serve as the foundation of western civilization. I believe it fostered the conceptualization of the sovereign individual. A tradition of liberty and freedom for all. And where this tradition has been embraced, countries and people have thrived.

 

The Resurrection

 

In the name Easter itself, we have the word “east”, from which the sun rises. The dawn of a new day, a resurrection where the symbolic and the physical align. And I believe it’s when the symbolic and the physical align, that’s what resonates with us. There’s a reason why we rely on certain catch phrases and word play. It “pulls on our heart strings” because that resonance strums us like the string of a guitar. And we all know how lovely the sound of an acoustic guitar is. There’s a reason it makes us want to clap and dance. There’s a reason why certain things bore us to tears and others make our hair stand.

Also at this time of year we experience a rejuvenation in nature as spring nurtures our plants back to life from the desolate winter. Every year we develop and grow into different people, we also need to let our old selves die off to embrace a renewed sense of self. “New year new me,” as they say. It’s built into our new year resolutions. With the sense that we are going somewhere with our lives, we understand that means leaving elsewhere behind. We know when we feel stagnant that we are not living up to our full potential, despite how arbitrary one’s “full potential” is when compared to any others.

Living in our pluralistic society we definitely find a lot of things we have in common. Abraham is the link between all Christians, Jews and Muslims as we all acknowledge the same God, despite books of varied teachings and disciplines. But Easter is what truly differentiates Christianity from everything else. It defined the conceptualization of God, the father, and God, the son. And though the Bible does not make direct reference to a “holy spirit” I believe the spirit was a natural byproduct of this discovery which serves as a bridge to God. Our path to God is through Christ and spirit fosters the ability to build that relationship and establish that link.

Easter is an acknowledgement of when Jesus died on the cross and three days later he rose again. This means the son of God paid the price for our sins and rose again to reconcile us to God. This symbolizes conquering death. It’s a forgiveness for our sins as we are made right with God. A reminder that God did not create the world with a balance of good an evil creatures. God only made good creatures, humanity being the best of all his creations. But our sin separated us from God so God humbled himself through Jesus to reconcile with us.

This is something I’ve spent so much time thinking about. We need to appreciate that the Bible was a series of accounts written so long ago and edited many times to be condensed into one great story. Think of how long we take to rant about how our day was. Could you distill the events of your entire day into one sentence? The entire Abel and Cain story in genesis is only 39 sentences.

 

The Meaning of Easter

 

In a time when we didn’t have science as we have it today, technology or communications, the Bible had the burden of distilling concepts and narratives by articulating them as precisely as possible. To something that has survived thousands of years we owe it the respect it deserves to be charitable in our interpretations of it and try to grasp the variable context of time. And appreciate that despite the antiquity it represents these lessons still hold true about individuals and about humanity as a whole.

Easter means Jesus is the lord of new beginnings, new days and new lives. A display of the incomprehensible power of God. For those of us who live by God’s virtues also inherit God’s blessings. Just as nurturing a seed gives root to a fruit bearing tree. Easter is a reflection on God’s intervention. From moving mountains to splitting seas and restoring life, etc.

The bible says that the poor in spirit will inherit heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.

We have been hearing a lot lately about how we will get through this pandemic together and we are all together and how we’ll get through this together. Love, love, love, etc. Hashtags of hope and kindness and love and togetherness. And I feel like there’s something about the Easter message that everyone is really hungry for right now, whether they acknowledge God or not. It’s in times like these, I feel, truly reveal to us that humanity is not a blank slate in which anything can be written or overwritten at any time (as the communists would have you believe). Humanity has an intrinsic human nature of diverse perspectives and variable curiosities.

The meaning of the resurrection is that the promises of God came true in Christ. Christ embodies the “good news” that is meant to be shared far and wide.  Easter, in many ways, is about love and togetherness. It was for love that God humbled himself by giving us his only son. The same love that motivated christ to die on the cross and ask God to forgive us. It is for love that God intervenes and interracts. The song of Solomon says that love, “burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” Easter means where there is love there is hope.

Jesus is persecuted, tortured, crucified and murdered. He is abandoned and betrayed by his friends and family. Think about it, what would you do if you were resurrected after that? Jesus had every right to take revenge. There’s a reason why his disciples were afraid when they saw his return. How do you look a guy in the eye after all that? And yet Jesus chooses to make peace. Jesus lived a life of virtue and God said yes to Jesus. Not only resurrecting him but effectively this was the moment he adopted him as his son and empowered him to serve as our bridge to God. This is God establishing hope for us that despite our sins and our depravity we can be saved.

 

Flatten the Curve

 

And here we find ourselves desperate for hope, desperate for salvation. We wish to be saved from this pandemic and while in lockdown we await the dawning of a new day, a new beginning, free from pestilence. If we are all willing to live virtuously we might just get there. Through respecting social distancing and taking being hyper vigilant about proper hygiene and by disinfecting common points of contact, we can avoid spreading the virus. We must do our part to flatten the curve.

The lockdown sure is making us all poor and more than just in spirit but somehow knowing that this is a shared, collective pain makes it a little easier to accept. Usually when you lose your job you can’t help but blame yourself even if you know it wasn’t your fault. But together we create a solidarity that affirms what we know to be true and gives us a greater outlook to the future, whatever that future may be.

People have been calling in to radio stations to open up about how this has been impacting them. Broadcasters platforming victims of the virus to share their stories. Politicians giving declarations of thanks to those who have been burdened with tasks impossible to ask of anyone. If we mourn together we will find comfort in our collective grief. Motivating volunteers to step up and deliver food and supplies to neighbours. Or to directly assist with front line workers. The more mouths cry out the more ears are there to listen.

Desperation has a real ugly side to it. And that’s what makes this lockdown so tricky. It’s impossible to set goals when the politicians keep moving the goal post. And if we can’t feel like we’re working towards anything we feel trapped in chaos. A few weeks became a month and now a month has become several months. Now projections are saying we may be fighting several waves of this virus for what could be two years. The unknown in that is a recipe for desperation. But it is our human nature that relies on rules and boundaries to keep us in check. If we can follow the rules as best we can then we can all feel like we are a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It’s the rules and boundaries that keep us from devolving into the animals we have the potential to be. The actions we take now will dictate the future ahead of us. If we can discipline ourselves and confront our strong emotions as pacifists then we will earn a brighter future. The meek will inherit the earth.

As Canadians, it’s especially hard to lockdown during patio season after a bitter winter. Not to mention the tradition of family reunion over a big Easter meal. It’s hard to accept that we will have to make due with what we can scrounge up out of our pantries and whatever’s left in the stores. All while watching a minority among us largely ignoring the guidelines and just being very selfish, hurting us all as a result. It’s easier now than ever to point and wag fingers at others.

But we need to stay focussed on ourselves and our own lives and look at how we can optimize our own quality of life within the boundaries that have been drawn around us. It’s important to remember that those actually sick with the virus are the only ones who need to quarantine themselves completely. We are allowed to go outside to feel the sun on our face and the grass between our toes. Look up at the clouds rather than only down at our phones. See if we can reestablish our relationship with nature. It may just reveal to us things we should be grateful for, rather than hunger and thirst over the things we’re going without. Hunger and thirst for righteousness and be filled.

If you know someone in your community who’s an essential worker or who is extra vulnerable see what you can do to help them. Not only will it give you something to do with your time but it will give you a purpose. Maybe you are within your means to donate to your local community or institutions in your community. Maybe you have the skillset to make protective gear to share with health care workers. Maybe you can volunteer somewhere for something to feel useful.

I would discourage any initiative outside government issued guidelines but if there is something you can do to step up that could result in saving lives. Maybe it’s nothing more than sharing important information over social media and promoting hashtags to spread awareness instead of spreading the virus. As hard as you have it, remember there is someone somewhere who has it worse than you. Pay it forward and someday it’ll come back around to you. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

The things so many are calling for are already well documented virtues in the Bible. I believe life is more like a game than it is a Shakespearean play where we are players. Take a game like chess. A simple board with simple criss crossing lines and several functional play pieces. Seemingly arbitrary rules however by enforcing these rules there are almost limitless of opportunities that open up to play. Rules and guidelines can create opportunities where there were none before. The social distancing guidelines hygiene practices can be that opportunity to get past this lockdown. And it could not only lead to a full recovery but with what we are learning today we can use for the next viral outbreak tomorrow. Blessed are those pure in heart, for they will see God.

 

window church crucifixion church window
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

So I guess this is my long winded way of reaffirming what you already know. We stand apart yet we stand united. Together we will win this war against this invisible enemy. We are antifragile and that means once we emerge from this we will not only be okay, we’ll be better. Let’s stay focussed on ourselves and our own lives. Let’s take time to do things we’ve always said we didn’t have time to do. Let’s cleanout those closets and cleanup those common areas and reorganize our bedrooms. Let’s accept the life we’ve been handed and improve upon it. And sooner than later the world will open back up to us. We will get through this. The new day is about to dawn. Love one another and don’t give up hope. Where there is love there will always be hope. That’s the meaning of Easter. Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

Anxiety arises from not being able to see the whole picture. If you feel anxious, but are not sure why, try putting your things in order.

We can only transform our lives if we sincerely want to.  Small changes transform our lives.

Tidying your physical space allows you to tend to your psychological space.

Tidying orders and relaxes the mind.

There are two reasons we can’t let go:  an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.

Cherish the things you love. Cherish Yourself.

  • Marie Kondo

(there were so many golden quotes I had to just pick my favourites from a barrage of sparked joy)

 

IF you are interested in learning a little bit more about the Bible, here are some inspiring resources I’ve watched which I found extremely useful and some great food for thought. And if you are considering the Bible, let me just give you one piece of advice:

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER

Audible: Jesus and his jewish influences

Audible: How Jesus became God

Audible: Philosophy, Religion and the meaning of life

Audible: Biblical Wisdom Literature

Audible: Pure Voice Audio Bible – New International Version, NIV (Narrated by George W. Sarris): Complete Bible

Audible: C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

Audible: C.S. Lewis: The Abolition of Man

YouTube: Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series

YouTube: Bishop Robert Barron

YouTube: T.D. Jakes

YouTube: Living Stone Christian Reformed

YouTube: Paul Vander Klay

YouTube: Logos Christian Family Church

YouTube: Archdiocese of Toronto (Archbishop Thomas Collins)

 

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