If you are like most Americans, you start playing Christmas Carols like O Holy Night and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing at least a month before Christmas. You spend hours wrapping gifts, hanging lights, and jaunting off to countless Christmas parties. But in the weeks leading up to Easter, do you sit around listening to Up From the Grave He Arose or RSVPing to that rockin’ Easter party? Not so much huh?
So why the lack of enthusiastic preparation for the holiday celebrating Christ’s resurrection? Like Christmas, Easter play a pivotal role in showing God’s love in human form. In fact, Easter is even more theologically significant than Christmas. If Christ did not rise from the dead, His claim of eternal authority fails a crucial test. For all Christians, Easter affirms who we are and what we believe. Yet Easter often plays second fiddle, both culturally and spiritually, to its December bookend. What gives?
I think the main reason is that because of the disconcerting nature of the holiday, Easter doesn’t boast as much commercial appeal as Christmas does. Shoppers give Christmas a much weightier welcome by hitting the stores and malls even months before the actual day arrives.
In contrast to Christmas, Easter’s preparation is solemn and introspective. There is the period of Lent, which is all about a time of sacrifice and personal discipline leading up to the time when we celebrate what’s new. Christmas is filled with possibility and hope. But with Easter, even though the resurrection is an affirmation of confidence in God’s caring for us, you still have to work through the grief of Good Friday. The transition from the grief to the victory of the resurrection is so rapid that it can be difficult for people to embrace culturally.
That transition makes Easter much more challenging to celebrate. When you think about it, Easter is really a two-part holiday. You have Good Friday, followed two days later by Easter Sunday. Good Friday can be rough, and it should be. You then just have to hang in there for Easter Sunday.
It might require more from us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but Christians can celebrate Easter with the same gusto as the birth of Jesus. Remember that without Easter, Good Friday and Christmas wouldn’t really matter that much.
Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter are all a part of the great story of how God showed His love for us by coming to the earth as a human so that He could die for each of our sins so that our relationship would be restored with Him and we could live for eternity with Him in heaven. That is a pretty awesome thing if you ask me. This Easter holiday, let’s celebrate it with the same gusto that we do for Christmas.